Story I | Budgets and Beauty

Takahiro Kondō 2007. Oil & Water installation. Petroleum ash on fleece, stainless steel with silver mist glaze 80 × 250.8 × 5 cm view on artsy

‘Beauty’ is not a four letter word, but ‘lust’ is, and an undesirable, if not sinful, human trait. I confess to unbridled passion and lust, and the envy of possession as the motivation for acquiring Takahiro Kondō’s beautiful artwork ‘Oil and Water’, now gracing the walls of Presence II, The Art in Artist.

First seen at Barry Friedman’s eponymous Chelsea gallery, I was overcome with the passion that great art inspires. Both intellectual and sensual, it aroused inexplicable longing and the accompanying frustration of being unable to own it…beyond my budget: Yes, gallerists, like collectors, have budgetary constraints.

Reduce this work to its components- raw fleece, crude oil waste, steel and a ceramic glaze that looks like drops of water – and it will seem incongruous that these can so inspire. Yet that is the magnetic pull and awe of art. Serendipity allowed me to purchase the work at a later date.

Takahiro Kondō 2007. Oil & Water close up detail ‘Silver Mist Glaze’

Oil and water are incompatible, they separate, water molecules are attracted to each other more than to oil molecules. Is this incompatibility a metaphor for something else? Does the artist have a message? How is that expressed? Does the manifestation of the message override the beauty of the artwork? Can one be appreciated without the other? Is there a journey of discovery beyond the physical? This is the challenge and the addictive attraction of a great work of art, to be addressed in its Presence.

Takahiro Kondō, has a special place in the history of Lesley Kehoe Galleries and its move to the gallery at 101 Collins. Internationally renowned Takahiro’s first solo show in Australia was in the grand foyer of 101 Collins. Searching for a permanent gallery space at the time and on the verge of transferring overseas, this was a serendipitous association with no thought of a home in the prestigious Melbourne icon. Kondō,’s monumental ceramic and glass monoliths from the Orkney series added stature and grace to the foyer’s golden ponds, with smaller works in an intriguing circular installation following the marble spiral of the central floor.

LKG_Japanese_Art_Kondo_101_210pxTakahiro Kondō Monoliths from his debut solo exhibition in Australia with LKG at 101 Collins St – two works (pictured right and second left) are now in the NGV collection

A near sell-out exhibition, two of the monoliths entered the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, a smaller version the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, and two works joined the significant collection of contemporary Japanese ceramics at Hamilton Art Gallery in regional Victoria, with many private collections numbering amongst the acquisitions. Each of the works in this exhibition featured Kondō,’s unique ceramic glaze ‘gintekisai’, ‘silver mist/water drawn from fire’ now daringly applied to steel in the Oil and Water work currently on exhibition. Kondō,’s works also feature in major international museums, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Met NY, LACMA and Sao Paolo to name a few.


Takahiro Kondō works in the Hamilton Art Gallery and National Gallery of Australia collections

When I think of Takahiro Kondō, I think of table tennis, mandarin ducks, and an intense desire to understand the intrinsic nature of ‘fine art’. Takahiro was a graduate of literature and an international table tennis champion before adopting the family tradition of ceramics. The mandarin ducks greet one when visiting the studio in Kyoto, his Living National Treasure grandfather’s home Kondō Yūzo (1902-1985). The ‘Oil and Water’ connection was initiated during a studio visit seeing the floor covered with cans of dark black viscous ‘stuff’. Takahiro identified the crude oil waste, saying he felt obliged to address the prevailing environmental issues.

LKG_JapaneseArt_Kondo_Takahiro_Studio_650pxTakahiro Kondō Studio visit, November 2015. Kyoto, Japan

I am a connoisseur not an artist, constantly delighted and challenged by the creativity of the artists with whom we have the privilege to interact. Takahiro’s ceramic practice has transcended the commonly accepted parameters of the world of ceramics. Along with other contemporary Japanese ceramics, it has entered the realms of sculpture, and something that would please the artist, the world of fine art. With strong roots in tradition that are at the basis of his mastery, Takahiro is currently experimenting with the age old Japanese ceramic traditions of Oribe, Shino and Iga: whither to – we await with lustful anticipation.

LKG_JapaneseArt_Kondo_Takahiro_incenseburner_650pxTakahiro Kondō 2004. Incense Burner. Ceramic, mist glaze, glass
3.4 x 2 x 6 inches or 8.5 x 5 x 15 cm email for purchase details