Shinichi Sawada installation view. Image courtesy of James Cohan, New York and Jennifer Lauren Gallery, Manchester,United Kingdom.Photo: Izzy Leung.
Shinichi Sawada installation view. Image courtesy of James Cohan, New York and Jennifer Lauren Gallery, Manchester, United Kingdom. Photo: Izzy Leung.

Shinichi Sawada

Agents of Clay

Shinichi Sawada: Agents of Clay marks the first solo museum exhibition of Shinichi Sawada’s work in the US. In 2000, Sawada began creating ceramics at Nakayoshi Fukushikai, a social welfare organization in Japan for individuals with disabilities. For the last two decades, he has produced alluring, mesmerizing clay figures that combine features from mammals, fish, birds and insects with creatures from Sawada’s imagination. These sculptures frequently include multiple faces, are covered in eyes, and are densely patterned with incised lines, bumps, horns, and scales.

Co-presented by CAM and The Mint Museum, this exhibition features eighteen of Sawada’s sculptures made in the past decade whose fantastical array of forms and features bridge traditional art making and craft production. This exhibition also offers the opportunity to explore the millennia-old tradition of wood-burning Shigaraki kilns and the tradition of Japanese pottery in the mountainous region where Sawada works. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, Shinichi Sawada: Agents of Clay, featuring images of works in the exhibition, an introduction and acknowledgements by co-organizers Lisa Melandri and Jen Sudul Edwards, Ph.D., and a scholarly essay by independent curator, writer, and arts administrator of contemporary art and craft, Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy.

Shinichi Sawada: Agents of Clay is organized by Lisa Melandri, Executive Director, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and Jen Sudul Edwards, Ph.D., Chief Curator, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC. 

Photo courtesy Nakayoshi Fukushikai and Jennifer Lauren Gallery

Shinichi Sawada (b. 1982) lives and works in Japan’s Shiga prefecture. Since 2000, he has attended Nakayoshi Fukushikai, a social welfare facility that supports disabled people. In 2020, a solo exhibition of his work traveled from the Museum Lothar Fischer in Neumarkt to the Georg Kolbe Museum in Berlin. His work has featured prominently in major group exhibitions around the world, including The Encyclopedic Palace at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 curated by Massimiliano Gioni and The Doors of Perception at Frieze New York in 2019. His work is held in the permanent collections of numerous public institutions, including the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Halle Saint Pierre, Paris; and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca.


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