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Sculptures from artist Jun Kaneko's critically acclaimed Heads Series on view in San Francisco
Jun Kaneko with "HEADS" sculptures in front of the War Memorial Opera House. © Cory Weaver • Photographer.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The San Francisco Arts Commission announced Rena Bransten Gallery's installation of two 6-foot ceramic heads by acclaimed artist Jun Kaneko in front of the War Memorial Opera House on Van Ness Avenue. This temporary public art installation coincides with the premiere of Kaneko's production design of Mozart's The Magic Flute at San Francisco Opera opening on June 13. Kaneko's HEADS will be on view through November 2012.

"This installation is a wonderful example of how public and private entities can work together to enhance the urban environment through the arts," said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. "We are grateful to Rena Bransten Gallery for installing the sculptures in a location where everyone in the city can enjoy them."

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley commented, "the whimsical, colorful Kaneko heads enliven the entry to the War Memorial Opera House and give a sense that magic and beauty lie within."

Designed to complement one another, the two ceramic heads were installed facing each other at the bottom of the War Memorial Opera House's front steps. The faces of the sculptures, one painted a bright primary yellow and the other red and featureless, emerge from a playful pattern of black and white polka-dots. Kaneko first created pairings of HEADS in 1994 in his studio emerging from his curiosity about eastern philosophy and exploring the additional layer of visual dialogue the human figure brings to his creative discourse and continues to explore this sculptural form in greater scale and other mediums.

"Jun Kaneko's public space projects engage and surprise with monumental scale and vivid glazing. He is perhaps the only artist I can think of to hand make and hand glaze objects of this magnitude. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with the enthusiastic support of the Arts Commission, the San Francisco Opera, civic leaders and the artist to bring these amazing pieces to San Francisco," said Rena Bransten.

Kaneko has always worked in a variety of media including ceramics, painting, printmaking, drawing, bronze and glass. He often invokes the concept of "ma" in his work, a 2,000-year-old Japanese word that describes a space or distance between thoughts, things, sounds and actions, or the conscious moment between thought and action. Like musical notes, two marks on paper derive meaning from the space between them. One sees the influence of "ma" in Kaneko's San Francisco installation. The artist carefully chose the location and the proximity of the sculptures to each other and the building.

Born in Nagoya, Japan in 1942, Kaneko is an internationally renowned artist acclaimed for his pioneering work in ceramics. His artwork appears in numerous international and national solo and group exhibitions annually, and is included in more than 70 museum collections. He has realized over 40 public art commissions in the United States and Japan and is the recipient of national, state and organization fellowships and honorary doctorates. San Francisco is the proud owner of two Kaneko sculptures, which are located at San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 1. Other Jun Kaneko HEADS have been exhibited at Philadelphia's City Hall by its Public Art Program and by the New York City Parks Public Art Program on the Park Avenue Malls from June through November 2008 installed in the landscaped medians at 52nd, 53rd, and 54th Streets.

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