Kako Katsumi

Kako Katsumi (b. 1965)

The allure of Kako Katsumi’s work lies partly in the ancient symbolism and mystery of the primitive shapes which decorate the surfaces of his ceramic works. This is certainly not to detract from the mastery of form and material that these works exhibit, but the earthy red, and the strange, yet familiar, symbols speak to a deep, perhaps forgotten, part of our human experience.

The sandy colour and textured surfaces of the body, coupled with the ochre-like red of the decoration, call forth primitive natural images. Kako is inspired by the pottery of the prehistoric Jomon Period of Japan 14,000 BC-300BCE. First reactions to the colours and patterns of his work call forth images of the Australian desert and elements of indigenous painting, further suggesting the meeting points and commonalities of human culture.

Born in 1965, the third generation of a family of potters associated with decorative Kyoto ceramics, Kako moved away from Kyoto and this tradition to explore his individual creativity. From an electric kiln to a wood-fired kiln, Kako established a reputation as a talent in the creation of the challenging Japanese ‘chawan’ used in the formal practice of tea. In 2004 he received the top prize in the Tanabe Museum’s Exhibition for tea wares.

Kako’s recent work has moved beyond traditional wares and traditionally inspired glazes to large-scale sculptural works. After experimentation with the wood-fired kiln, he has returned to the relative control of the electric kiln, certainly a contributory component of his adventures with red glaze and large scale forms. The fugitive reds of early Jomon pottery feature prominently in this new work which he calls ‘haikaku’ ash red. Three firings are required to achieve the colour, one for 10-11 hours at 1250 Celsius.

Now in his mid-forties, Kako is at the very cusp of mastery.


1965 Born Kyoto
1986 Graduated Kyoto Saga University, Ceramics Department
1988 Selected for Nitten
Selected for Asahi Ceramic Art Competition
Selected for Kyoten
1989 Selected for the Japan Craft competition
Selected for the Mino International Ceramic Exhibition
Selected for the Kyoto Applied Fine Art competition
1990 Selected for Nitten
1991 Began work in Nishiwaki, Hyougo prefecture
1993 Selected for the International Ceramics Biennale
1994 Award for excellence, Kyoto Crafts Biennale
Participated in Ceramic show in Melbourne, Australia
1995 Awarded prize at the Kinki Contemporary Craft Exhibition
1997 Honorable mention, Asahi Ceramic Competition
Awarded the Daikakuji Prize,Saga University Vessel Exhibition
2000 The orbit of Kako, The orbit of Fujihira’ Exhibition at Art Space Kan, Kyoto
Solo show, Tobu, Ikebukuro, Tokyo
2004 Excellence prize, Cha no Yu Exhibition, Tanabe Museum of Art
Solo show, Tobu, Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Solo show, Gallery Sho, Osaka
2005 Selected for Tanabe Museum of Art Cha no Yu Exhibition
Selected Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition
Awarded Kusube prize, Kyoten
2006 Solo show, Gallery Kurimoto, Niigata
Solo Show, Robert Yellin Ceramic Gallery, Mishima
2007 Solo show, Umeda Hankyu, Osaka
Selected, Ceramics of Hyogo Exhibition at the Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo
Solo show, Tobu Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Solo show, Gallery Sho, Osaka
Selected, Awarded prize, Chozabusho Exhibition
Selected Kobe Biennale
2008 Solo show, Campanule, Chiba
Solo show, Gallery Tosei, Kyoto
Solo show, Tobu Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Solo show, Gallery Sho, Osaka
2009 Kikuchi Biennale Exhibition
Solo show, Tobu Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Solo show, Umeda Hankyu, Osaka
Solo show, Fukuya, Hiroshima
Solo show, Takashimaya, Yokohama
2010 Honorable mention, 4th Contemporary Tea Ware Exhibition



Kako Katsumi
Lesley Kehoe