Asia Week New York zooms in on 'Kondō Takahiro: The Thinking Hand'

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Asia Week New York zooms in on 'Kondō Takahiro: The Thinking Hand'
Kondō Takahiro in his studio, Yamashina, Kyoto (2017).

NEW YORK, NY.- Asia Week New York will present Kondō Takahiro: The Thinking Hand, a webinar celebrating one of Japan’s most admired ceramicists, on Tuesday, February 20th, at 5:00 p.m. (EST). Kondō–featured in “Porcelains in the Mist: The Kondō Family of Ceramicists,” on view at the Brooklyn Museum–will discuss his recent projects with renowned experts in the field: Glenn Adamson, Joan Cummins, and Xiaojin Wu, moderated by Joe Earle. To register:

Kondō Takahiro’s forebears specialized in wheel-thrown vessels with painted decoration, but he has pushed the limits of the ceramic medium to create art of broader significance. The panelists will trace the ceramist’s career, explain the thinking behind the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition, discuss the haunting Reduction body sculptures, and position his work in global context. The webinar concludes with a dialogue between the artist and catalogue author Joe Earle.

The Distnguished Panel:

Glenn Adamson is a curator, writer and historian based in New York and London. He has previously been Director of the Museum of Arts and Design and Head of Research at the V&A. Dr. Adamson’s publications include Thinking Through Craft (2007); The Craft Reader (2010); Postmodernism: Style and Subversion (2011, with Jane Pavitt); The Invention of Craft (2013); Art in the Making (2016, with Julia Bryan-Wilson); Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects (2018); Objects: USA 2020; and Craft: An American History (2021). His next book, A Century of Tomorrows, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2024. Dr. Adamson is Artistic Director for Design Doha, a new biennial for Qatar (forthcoming in 2024), editor of Material Intelligence, a quarterly online journal published by the Chipstone Foundation, and curator-at-large for LongHouse Reserve.

Joan Cummins has served as Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator of Asian Art at the Brooklyn Museum since 2007. She has recently completed a multi-year project to renovate and reinstall the Museum’s suite of Asian galleries. In addition to the current Kondō family exhibition (open until December 8, 2024), she is working on a special exhibition of the Museum’s celebrated set of Hiroshige’s 100 Famous Views of Edo (opens April 5). A specialist in South Asian art, Joan received her doctorate in Art History from Columbia University. Prior to Brooklyn, she was Assistant Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Moderator Joe Earle, an independent scholar based in London, advises collectors, dealers, and institutions on three continents, and has worked for nearly half a century in the field of Japanese art. Earle held leadership positions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Japan Society, New York. He has organized more than two dozen exhibitions of Japanese art and written, translated, or edited publications on aspects of Japanese culture ranging from contemporary art and design through samurai sword-fittings and flower-arrangement bronzes.

Kondō Takahiro is a contemporary artist working primarily in clay. Turning to ceramics in 1986 after a career in competitive table tennis, he brought the same intensity and discipline to his art as he had to his sport. His early ceramics followed a traditional path, but he was soon experimenting with new ideas and media, inventing his “Silver Mist” metallic surface finish, and later adding cast glass. He has often drawn inspiration from the natural world, with “water born of fire” being a central theme in his practice, but his most universal achievement to date is the Reduction series of meditating figures, created in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Kondō’s relationship with clay is based on its deep roots in Japan’s culture and history, and that relationship is his current challenge, starting with his Hakuji white porcelain work, and with Shino ware as the next big challenge.

Xiaojin Wu currently serves as the Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Prior to joining the PMA in August 2022, she was the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation Curator of Japanese and Korean Art at the Seattle Art Museum (2012–2022), where she organized several memorable exhibitions and played a crucial curatorial role in the transformation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Before venturing out to the Pacific Northwest, Wu served as a curator of Asian art at the Princeton University Art Museum (2008–2012) and was a Getty Fellow at the Asia Society Museum in New York (2007–2008). In 2019, in recognition of her work in promoting Japanese art and culture, the Nakasone Peace Institute awarded her a Nakasone Yasuhiro Award. A specialist in pre-modern Japanese painting, Wu received her doctorate in Japanese art history from Princeton University.

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