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未知の世界を探る「陶」の表現者。今村能章

Ceramic artist, exploring the unknown, Yoshiaki Imamura

Yoshiaki Imamura has been creating objects and vessels with his own unique worldview. Imamura's creations are not confined to the realm of craft or art. For him, ceramics is the ultimate chemistry created by the encounter of clay and flame. Encountering the "unknown" when he takes something out of the kiln is what drives him to continue making pottery.

 

The one and only work born from an insatiable spirit of inquiry

Originally interested in three-dimensional expression, Mr. Imamura chose ceramics as his method of expression. He majored in ceramics at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, and spent the first couple of years studying pottery making and traditional crafts, but he was not at all interested in the conventional techniques.

In his fourth year at university, when he was allowed to express himself freely, he became obsessed with “burning”. He spent his days experimenting with all kinds of things he found around him, such as asphalt and coral, and putting them in the pot to face the finished product. There were surprises and discoveries.

The temperature in the kiln reaches as high as 1,300 degrees Celsius, and most of the things on the earth melt away. The expression of the work changes depending on the type of clay, the glaze used, the temperature of the fire, and the rotation of the fire. Irregular curves and intricate designs are created from a world of only gravity and heat without human intervention. The process is somewhat similar to the way the earth forms minerals and rocks over a long period of time.

He is like an alchemist, transforming various materials found in nature into something unique. More than ten different types of clay and glazes are selected and mixed, but the final finish is left to the kiln. The real joy of ceramics is to be the "first witness" to something that has not yet been seen by anyone. Imamura laughs, "I feel pleasant that I am in a serious competition with the earth.”

Imamura was born into a Christian family and was familiar with the birth of mankind and the story of Noah's Ark from an early age, but he says he used to have a hard time believing in them. However, as he created tangible things in Okinawa, a land embraced by the mother sea, he witnessed the great power of nature that human beings cannot compete with, and began to think, "It's not entirely impossible.” He began to wonder, "What is gravity? What is man?” While pondering these questions, he continues to pursue his craftsmanship.

His works, such as a glass with a series of human faces, a cup with a doorknob shaped handle, and an object that evokes the origin of the universe, have a strong impact on people just by looking at them, and they continue to fascinate many people.

 

Espresso cups in pursuit of the best cup

While continuing his experimental creative activities, Mr. Imamura has also been focusing on creating vessels from the perspective of the user. Among his works, the espresso cup that fits comfortably in a hand is very popular.

Mr. Imamura says that he has always loved coffee. About 13 years ago, he came across a delicious espresso and fell in love with it. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that he wanted to make a cup that would make espresso taste even better, so he started making cups.

As he began to unravel the history of coffee, he learned that there is a world as deep as that of matcha green tea in Japan. In Italy, the birthplace of espresso, the size, thickness, and width of the cup had been thoroughly studied. However, simply copying them doesn’t create any added value. The idea of adding a Japanese sensitivity to it was the impetus for the birth of the espresso cup. It took five years from the initial concept to finally complete a product that satisfied him.

Imamura's cup does not have a handle, so you can savor the coffee while feeling its texture in your palm. You can enjoy it in a style similar to the Japanese tea ceremony. The cup is also designed to be functional and usable in the office or on the go. You can carry it around with you as if it were a fashion item.

Although it is called an espresso cup, it can be used for any purpose. You can enjoy it in any way you like. Mr. Imamura says that he hopes to propose new values and lifestyles through the cups. The espresso cup has won many fans around the world because of its unique form and beautiful colors. You will enjoy the different tastes and textures depending on where you drink from.

 

Works

ESPRESSO

The inside of the cup is coated with gold, giving it a dignified feel. The shimmering gold beautifully accentuates the crema (foam) floating on the surface of the espresso. This is an excellent product that has been calculated to bring out the aroma of the beans, right down to the mouthfeel.

KISS

A cup with an uneven design that changes its expression depending on the angle from which you look at it. It is named after the way the lips move to find a comfortable place, which looks like kissing. The mouthfeel is very comfortable.

GAP

This cup is the antithesis of mass production and mass consumption. It is positioned as a vessel that bridges the gap between people who do not usually use artists' vessels and those who do. It is simple, easy to handle, and suitable for everyday use.

 

Yoshiaki Imamura

Born in 1984 and raised in Hyogo Prefecture, Imamura moved to Okinawa when he entered the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts. After graduating from the graduate school of it, he set up his studio "studioooparts" in 2013 and started his activities as an artist in earnest. While working as a part-time lecturer at a university, he continues his creative activities vigorously. His works are loved and used all over the world.

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