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Portland Japanese Garden exhibits porcelain sculptures by Sueharu Fukami
“In the Sky” is 3.3 feet wide x .98 feet deep x .98 tall. Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama.

PORTLAND, ORE.- The Portland Japanese Garden presents the exhibition A Distant View: The Porcelain Sculpture of Sueharu Fukami with Photographs by Jean Vollum October 5-November 17, 2013. Works by Sueharu Fukami—some on loan from private collectors in Portland and others direct from the artist’s studio in Fushimi, Japan—are being exhibited along with a series of color photographs by the late Jean Vollum, who was Fukami’s longtime friend and patron.

Internationally acclaimed for his ceramics, Fukami produces sleek, elegant sculptures with soaring forms and refined edges that are achieved by injecting liquid clay into a plaster mold, a technique developed and refined by Fukami. The porcelain is colored with a distinctive bluish-white glaze called qingbai in China, where it was developed in the 11th century. This bluish-white hue is echoed in the photographs of Jean Vollum, which capture the striking, fragile forms of polar ice floes.

Both artists’ work is inspired by the natural world. Fukami recalls an experience by the ocean in his early 20s that was a defining moment in his career. “It was the memory of an encounter I had with a sharp breeze while on the cliff during winter… All the senses in my body felt the pleasure of the strange wind as it stabbed my cheek. This tactile experience is at the heart of my creations.”

Sueharu Fukami was born in Kyoto in 1947 to a family of potters specializing in fine porcelain dishware. Immersed in the world of traditional ceramics, Fukami chose an unconventional path, taking the fine craft of his father in new directions, developing an artistic vocabulary unmistakably his own. Today his work is in the collections of more than two dozen major museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Portland Art Museum.

Jean Vollum, who passed away in 2007 at age 80, took up photography in her 60s, having studied as a youth at the Banff Center for the Arts and the Portland Art Museum school. Her photographs of frozen cliffs of polar ice were taken in Antarctica from a zodiac boat and helicopter. Vollum was a longtime friend of Sueharu Fukami, and once gave him a portfolio of her photographs as a gift. Vollum was a prominent Portland philanthropist and the wife of Tektronix founder Howard Vollum.

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