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Exhibition of new ceramics and paintings by Jun Kaneko opens at Gerald Peters Projects
Jun Kaneko, Untitled, Dango, 2019. Hand glazed raku ceramics, 35.5 x 36.5 x 14 inches. Photo: Colin Conces.

SANTA FE, NM.- Gerald Peters Projects opened Jun Kaneko: An Abundance of Presence. Featuring new ceramics and paintings, the exhibition brings together over twenty pieces in the Omaha-based artist’s largest show to date at the gallery.

Kaneko revolutionized the medium of ceramics with his monumental dangos. Now, he continues to push the boundaries of the material – while honoring its history – with a new body of work featuring his distinctive raining blue indigo glaze.

Developed over the last two decades, raining blue indigo glaze grew out Kaneko’s 1996 residency at the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands. There Kaneko had the opportunity to experiment with traditional blue porcelain glazes. First developed by the Chinese in the sixth and seventh centuries, the glazes reached the Netherlands via the maritime trade in the seventeenth century. Dutch artists soon applied the glazes to their ceramics, decorated with narrative scenes, known as Delftware.

Kaneko became fascinated with the ancient glazes, but his exploration came to halt as the lead-based materials were not allowed in the United Sates. Shortly thereafter the company manufacturing the glazes ceased production due to the presence of the element. The ever-determined Kaneko thus began his own experimentation, and after twenty years of development, he produced lead-free indigo formulas – the results of which will be on view in the exhibition.

Accompanying these pieces will be a selection of paintings, new raku works and the artist’s signature hand-built dangos.

Born in Nagoya, Japan in 1942, Jun Kaneko studied painting with Satoshi Ogawa during his adolescence. He came to the United States in 1963 to continue his studies at Chouinard Institute of Art when his introduction to Fred Marer drew him to sculptural ceramics. He proceeded to study with Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman in California during the time now defined as the Contemporary Ceramics Movement in America.

Based in Omaha since 1986, Kaneko has worked at several experimental studios including European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands; Otsuka Omi Ceramic Company in Japan; Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Bullseye Glass in Portland, Oregon; Acadia Summer Arts Program in Bar Harbor, Maine; and Aguacate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Over the course of his career he has partnered with industrial facilities to realize large-scale, hand-built sculptures. The first was his 19821983 Omaha Project at Omaha Brickworks. Later sculptures include his Fremont Project, completed in 1992-1994, and most recently his Pittsburg Project completed in 2004-2007. Most recently, Kaneko has worked at the Cuernavaca Raku ceramics studio, experimenting with new glazes and the unpredictability of raku.

Kaneko is increasingly drawn to installations that promote civic interaction, completing over sixty public art commissions, including two 350 foot long tile walls at Aquarium Station in Boston, Massachusetts (1993-2000); a three-story high wall in the Biology library at the University of Connecticut (1997); and the 88-foot-tall Glass Tower at the Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska (2017). Other large-scale permanent installations can be seen in Osaka, Japan (1994); Kansas City, Missouri (2006); Des Moines, Iowa (2013); and at the International Finance Center in Shanghai, China (2012). His artwork appears in numerous international and national solo and group exhibitions annually, and is included in more than 70 museum collections. Kaneko holds honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska, the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, and the Royal College of Art in London.

Jun Kaneko has designed the sets and costumes for three operas: Puccini’s Madame Butterfly (2006), Beethoven’s Fidelio (2008), and Mozart’s The Magic Flute (2012). All three have toured throughout the United States. Opera Omaha staged Fidelio in April 2015. The San Francisco Opera and the Washington National Opera presented Madame Butterfly with Kaneko’s sets and costumes in Winter 2016 and Spring 2017, respectively.

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