Kishi Eiko

Kishi Eiko (b. 1948)

In the beautiful environs of The Philosopher’s Walk of Kyoto, Kishi Eiko has patiently developed a unique interpretation of ceramic art. Without a master, without the ‘right’ political connections in the Japanese art world, a female in a man’s world, Kishi is achieving international recognition for her brilliant sculptural work.

Kishi’s studio is in her grandfather’s home, a charmingly eclectic mix of Western and traditional Japanese design and décor. Visiting the studio, one is at once struck by the limited physical space in which she creates…works peep out from underneath the Victorian style draped living room table.

With Dutch clogs and Japanese geta, Kishi creates coloured chamottes in Shigaraki clay. These are then inlaid into hand-built ceramic forms of breathtakingly precise shape. Once fired, the chamottes are revealed in a painstaking process of hand ‘picking’ and engraved surface detailing of fine spider-webbed lines.

Although Kishi makes functional works in the Japanese tradition (tea bowls, water containers for the practice of tea), it is her sculptural works that excite the eye and stir the soul. Many of the works are inspired by the role of light and angle in traditional Japanese Noh theatre. Noh masks are carved from wood and are ‘rigid’ forms, yet in performance and in conjunction with light and the actors’ deliberate movements, seem to move and convey a host of different emotions.

The technical complexity of Kishi’s works is undeniable but this is a secondary observation after their aesthetic and emotional impact. The fusion of mastery of technique and material with originality and aesthetics has seen Kishi awarded a number of prominent prizes in both Japan and Europe. Her works are represented  in major national institutions in the United States, Italy and France.

1948    Born Nara
1980   Graduate of Tekisui Museum Ceramic Institute
Member of International Academy of Ceramics
1999    McKnight Artist-in-Residence, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, USA
International Woodfire Conference, Iowa University, USA
2001    Artist-in-Residence in Seto, Aichi, Japan
2005    International Ceramic & Glass Art Festival in Seto, Aichi, Japan

Solo Exhibitions
1990   Gallery Maronie, Kyoto, Japan ’94, ’96
1992   Azabu Museum of Arts & Craft, Tokyo, Japan
1995   Kuroda Toen, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan ‘02
1997   Gallery Shokando, Kyoto, Japan ‘01
2001   “Master of Clay Five Artists from Kyoto”, Barry Friedman Gallery, NY, USA
2004   Wacoal Ginza Art Ginza Art Space Tokyo, Gallery Nakamura, Kyoto, Japan
2006   Takashimaya Art Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
2008   Rays of Light: The Intricate Ceramic Art of Kishi Eiko, New York

Competitions and Prizes
1981   Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition, ’85, ’87, ’91, ’93, ’95, ’97 thereafter selected
1984   Kyoto Arts & Crafts Exhibition, Special Prize, ’83, ’85, ’87, ’94, ’97 thereafter selected
1985   Asahi Ceramic Exhibition, Grand Prix, ’87 Special Prize’90 Sydney Exhibition, ’84-’97 selected
Women’s Association of Ceramic Art, Ministry of Culture Prize ’80 Mainichi Newspaper Prize, ’80-’89 selected
1986   Competition of Contemporary Ceramics – Kazuo Yagi Prize, ’88 selected
1987   Chunichi International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts – selected
1991   Kyoten, Mayor’s prize, and ’92, ’93-’98 thereafter invited
The 20th Chozasho Ceramic Art Exhibition, Grand Prix, Japan, ’93 Selected. Ceramic Biennale, Nominated for special award, ’95 judges award Encouragement award, ’93, ’97, ’99 selected Aichi, Japan
Asahi Crafts Exhibition’
“Kyoto Contemporary Ceramics Artists Exhibition”, ’94, ’96 Selected Daimaru Museum, Kyoto, Japan
“Master of Kyoto Ceramic Artists”, Daimaru Art Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
“New Artists Exhibition-Ceramic Art”, ’94 Selected, Itami Craft Center, Japan
1994   “Extreme Osaka”, Milan Italy
1995   Stoneware Competition, 2nd Prize, ’91 Memorial prize
The 4th International Ceramic Competition ’95 Mino, Japan
1997   The 35th Grant Prix Exhibition of Asahi Ceramic Art Exhibition
1998   Japan & Korea Women’s Ceramic Art Exhibition, Itami Craft Center, Japan
Fletcher Challenge Ceramic Award, New Zealand
1999   The 51st International Competition for Contemporary Ceramic Art, Silver Medal Prize, Faenza, Italy
“Korea & Japan Women’s Ceramic Art Exhibition” Gallery Kopac, Seoul, Korea
2000   “Five McKnight Artists”, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, USA
“the WSU Exhibition”, Winona State University, Minnesota, USA
2001   “Art and Crafts Kyoto Exhibition”, The City Art Center, Edinburgh, UK
2002   “Kyoto Arts & Craft association Exhibition”, The 25th Anniversary Prize, ’01-’05 selected
“Artist-in-Residence in Seto 2001-2002” Seto Ceramic & Glass Art Center, Aichi followed by exhibition at Seto City Cultural Center exhibition hall.
International Art & Design Fair, NY, USA
SOFA Chicago, USA
The 18th Biennale International Ceramic Art of Vallauris, France
2004   1st Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, Taipei
2005   “Contemporary Clay – Japanese Ceramics for the new century”, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA
1st International Triennial of Sillicate Arts, 2005, Kecskemet, Hungary
2006   “Contemporary Clay – Japanese Ceramics for the new century”, Japan Society, NY, USA

Art & Design Museum, NY, USA
International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy
Kecskemet International Ceramics Studio, Kecskemet, Hungary
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, USA
National Ceramic Museum, Sevres, France
New Orleans Museum of Art, USA
Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, USA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA
Seto City Art Museum, Aichi, Japan
Tokoname City, Aichi, Japan
University of Minnesota, Frederick R. Weiseman Art Museum, Minneapolis USA




Kishi Eiko
Lesley Kehoe