Kazunori Hamana

“Clay is a natural thing; it changes. I don’t want to fight with nature, so I follow it.” 

Kazunori Hamana was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1969 and grew up in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.  Since his childhood, he has been driven to pursue a deep philosophical interest in the nature of how  the universe functions on micro and macro levels. This awareness of impermanence and the  transience of earthly things has guided his work and lifestyle. In this vein, Hamana left his home at  the age of fifteen to stay with farmers in rural Hyogo Prefecture, working the land and caring for the  livestock at a nearby agricultural school. After a period of studying in Humboldt County and San  Diego, CA as a college student embedded in a hippie milieu, the artist found himself drawn back to  his home country and his Japanese identity. He later settled in a rural fishing village in Japan’s  Chiba Prefecture, where he currently divides his time between working as an organic rice farmer, a  fisherman, and an artist.  

Hamana draws upon the ancient traditions of Japanese ceramics while cultivating new, inventive  techniques in shaping, glazing, coloring, and firing. He makes large and delicate vessels out of  natural clay sourced from Shiga Prefecture in Japan. Inspired by traditional Japanese tsubo,  functional clay jars dating back to prehistoric times, he creates each sculpture by hand, making use  of improvisation and experimentation. A self-taught ceramicist, Hamana incorporates a slow and  gradual process, echoing the rhythm of his daily life in his rural surroundings. He considers these  daily chores as paramount to his sustainable practice and his pursuit of truth. After the pots are  fired, he places them outside of his studio, where they are left to accumulate impressions from the seasons changing. As these irregularly shaped objects continue their development on sun drenched balconies washed over by the sea waves, in shady bamboo groves, or in his garden facing  the mountain and his rice fields, the natural environment directs their transformation.  

Hamana’s earthenware provides a contemporary look at Japan’s rich, long history of pottery, from  ancient terra-cotta burial figures to everyday domestic objects. With surfaces sometimes fissured  and peeling like parched earth, Hamana’s sculptures appear in various colors ranging from bone white to smoky blue-grays; some featuring geometric and organic forms, stripes, symbols, and  language. Channeling tradition through a contemporary lens, Hamana references human history  and art history, including the practices of Cy Twombly, Alberto Giacometti, Isamu Noguchi, and  Jackson Pollock—the result is a body of work imbued with the beauty of imperfection and the  ephemeral. 

Kazunori Hamana (b. 1969, Osaka, Japan) lives and works in Chiba, Japan. His work has been  exhibited in public art institutions including the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA (2021); Towada Art Center, Towada, Japan (2017); and Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan  (2016). His work has been showcased in two-artist exhibitions at Blum & Poe, Tokyo (2020, 2021) and a group exhibition at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Takashi Murakami, which later  traveled to Blum & Poe, New York, NY (2015). 

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