Japan’s 11 Best Female Ceramic Artists You Need to Know Now


Japan’s 11 Best Female Ceramic Artists You Need to Know Now

by Anna Jamieson | CRAFT 

© Etsuko Tashima, Cornucopia, 2009, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

It’s no secret that Japan has a wonderful heritage of mind-blowing ceramic art. A number of exceptional female ceramic artists deserve special attention. Their extraordinary works combine different disciplines, themes and techniques.

Blending natural forms with monochrome palettes or experimenting with strange, intriguing pieces that beg further questioning, here are 11 of the most exciting Japanese women ceramicists around, representing some of the very best in contemporary Japanese ceramic craft.


1. Hitomi Hosono

© Hitomi Hosono, Feather Leaves Bowl, 2017, Adrian Sassoon

The incredible, plant-inspired porcelain of Hitomi Hosono are multi-layered and innately delicate sculptures, made up of beautifully-carved and exquisitely detailed floral pieces. This delicacy evokes a sense of authenticity in her work, as her fern-like forms seem to twist and turn in the wind. Hosono is exhibited widely around the world and her work has also been in many international publications — it’s not hard to see why!


2. Chieko Katsumata

© Chieko Katsumata, Pumpkin, 2014, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

The natural forms that inform Chieko Katsumata’s work — pumpkins and sea flowers, for example — are deeply textural odes to nature. With their rich colors and realistic surfaces, they look almost good enough to eat. Katsumata is interested on the application of color onto her contemporary clay forms; rather than painting onto the vessels directly, she applies the color through a piece of thin cloth. This technique allows a vivid color to shine through, whilst keeping the textured surface free from brush marks.


3. Etsuko Tashima

© Etsuko Tashima, Cornucopia, 2009, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

Etsuko Tashima’s beautiful work brings together pastel glass elements with porcelain forms, to create her instantly recognizable, flower-like Cornucopia sculptures. Winning awards and impressing critics, Etsuko’s works are drawn from biomorphic forms in nature, to create these particularly vivid, memorable pieces.

For see more from trendsetters in the world of Japanese ceramic art, check out these 6 Innovators to Watch!


4. Yoshimi Futamura

© Yoshimi Futamura, Black Hole, 2015, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

Yoshimi Futamura’s Black Hole is a rounded form with protruding elements, coated with a liquid porcelain slip which has cracked around the clay. The result is this fascinating and highly unusual work, which almost looks like a round loaf of bread or a piece of wood. Residing in Paris, Futamura’s inspiration comes invariably from nature, with forms linked to roots, waves and rhizomes typical motifs in her craft.


5. Kimiyo Mishima

© Kimiyo Mishima, Charcoal Box, 2012, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

Like a piece of pop-art for the craft world, Kimiyo Mishima’s vibrant pieces are intensely fun, and as a result Mishima has become one of Japan’s most prominent ceramic artists, with her work being exhibited world-wide. Beginning her career as a painter, pottery became her canvas for silk-screen printing, where she transfers printed matter such as magazines and newspapers, often with a political message intended to provoke the viewer.

Trailblazers like Mishima are changing the way we view ceramic art. For more examples of exceptional artists in the field check out These Phenomenal Works.


6. Machiko Ogawa

© Machiko Ogawa, Lunar Fragments, 2014, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

In 2014, Machiko Ogawa exhibited Lunar Fragments, a selection of her stunning, rock-shaped and boulder-like sculptures made up of translucent, crystallized glass and unglazed porcelain. Through the artist’s keen interests in rocks and minerals, these works are a prime example of how the mingling of materials can create strikingly modern pieces. Ogawa is one of six women to be awarded the Japanese Ceramic Society Prize, and was the first woman admitted to the prestigious ceramic department at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music - a true pioneer for female ceramic artists.


7. Tomoko Konno

© Tomoko Konno, Creature, 2011, Onishi Gallery

The otherworldly figures of the work of Tomoko Konno appear to be living things, combining bright colors, careful detail and a sense of movement. Crucial to Konno is the nerikomi technique, involving layering different bands of clay, which gives the finished object a painterly feel without using a brush. Konno lives in Tokoname, an ancient pottery town, whilst also spending her time in Bali. Perhaps its these distinct cultural influences which imbue her ceramic art with a magical, dream-like quality. In 2013, her work was selected for the 58th Premio Faenza in Italy.


8. Fuku Fukumoto

© Fuku Fukumoto, Lunar Forms, 2013, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

This unglazed stacked porcelain, with their brilliant blue and teal tones, is a perfect reminder of the simplicity that can be at the heart of ceramics. These wheel thrown forms are delicately positioned inside one another, creating a beautiful sense of balance and fragility in the work of Fuku Fukumoto, who reacts to the potter’s wheel instinctively as she makes her sensitive pieces.


9. Sawako Kobayashi

© Sawako Kobayashi, Peacock Princess, 2015, Onishi Gallery

This wonderful and whimsical piece from Sawako Kobayashi, Peacock Princess, is created through the technique of nerikomi, a contemporary Japanese term for a way of creating patterns with colored clay. Now based in Chigasaki City, Kanagawa, Kobayashi studied ceramics at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, and also holds a PhD in fine art. Her work seems to exist in its own world, entering a new phase of craft which combines fantasy with reality.


10. Sachiko Fujino

© Sachiko Fujino, Interconnection, 2015, Joan B Mirviss Gallery

The stunning work of ceramic artist Sachiko Fujino, who originally studied fashion in Kyoto and worked as designer and fabric dyer, is instantly reminiscent of the paintings of American artist George O’Keefe. Both artists perfectly encapsulate the subtle coloration of natural forms, and the amazing vibrancy and power that simple light colors such as white can convey. Fujino’s work in pottery draws upon her background in textiles — this piece, Interconnection, effortlessly evokes the folds of a piece of fabric.


11. Shio Kusaka

© Shio Kusaka, Dinosaur 19, 2009, Gagosian

Based in Los Angeles, ceramic artist Shio Kusaka creates stunning vases reminiscent of traditional Greek amphoras of Classical antiquity, yet their use of rich blues or patterns which mimic leopard spots give them a decisively modern feel. The fine incisions on the neck of this vase contrasts beautifully with the rounded lip and the abstract-like lines on the vase’s main body, as a winged figure seems to skate over an expanse of water.


Who is your favorite ceramic artist on the list? Is there anyone you think we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments below!


April 6, 2018 | Craft, Ceramics