Friday, February 6, 2015

Wood-Fired Dinosaurs by Shumpei Yamaki

Wood-fired Dinosaur
Dinosaur Expertise : Shumpei Yamaki
It was in 2008 that Shumpei was introduced to me through Tim Rowan. At the time, Shumpei was still teaching at Long Island University.

While studying at the University of Wisconsin, Shumpei was an accident where he was seriously injured. With his positive and forward-looking disposition he delved into rehabilitation. This would be the link where he started ceramics. Demonstrating talent from the very beginning, he continued to excel, and, ultimately, to become a professional ceramicists. I have told him before, "It must have been when you were sculpting dinosaurs that working with clay became so natural to you."

After his first solo show at Sara Japanese Pottery, I invited him to stay at my home where we shared stories late into the night and where I got to know his personality. In answering a question of mine, he responded, "I started making dinosaurs back when I was in kindergarten. Even now, making dinosaurs is a passion of mine." Until that moment, I only knew him as a potter when, surprisingly, making dinosaurs was one of his true and continued passions.

Interested from childhood, he played with dinosaurs; making them, then having them fight one another. He never tired of dinosaurs throughout his schooling, and entered college to major in archeology. He asked his professor, "When do we start learning about dinosaurs in class?" only to be told, "Archeology is the study of humans living in the past, so our classes will not cover dinosaurs". True to his eccentric personality, this was the first time he was faced with this misunderstanding.

Half-jokingly, I told him, "If you love dinosaurs so much, instead of making pots why don't you become a dinosaur artist?" At this point, I remember him nodding as if the idea weren't completely out of the question.

It was partially at my behest that he sculpt dinosaurs; we then planned for a small show that was titled, "Wood-fired Dinosaur".

Eleven dinosaurs were delivered: T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops. All different sizes, all realistic in capturing the movement of a dinosaur. The largest T-Rex was the highlight of them all with a span of 23 inches. A lurking rugged posture, it looks as if it will attack its prey at any moment, showing its snarling fangs, breathing its rasping breath.

Using the wheel to create a hollow center, Shumpei builds the figure by adding the head, feet, arms, and tail; a technique of the potter. The large thick hind legs center the weight, the long tail sweeps down, and its body curves as if it were turning to one side. Its small front legs are formed below its head, poised to grip. Its head is tilted at a slight angle bringing it to life. It is not sculpted in every meticulous detail. However, at one glance, you can see that there is no compromise in life-like proportion; you can see the muscles and the movement.

Entirely coated in natural glaze, the body is a deep glossy brown making the dry ash glaze of the head and spine look beautiful. Following the tail, it curls with a wavy texture like silk crepe. It makes you think that this is how real dinosaurs looked like. This is an accidental product, a boon from the gods.

Hip hop dancer turned ceramicist, an archeology major with dinosaur expertise.
I wait in anticipation for his greatest works yet to come.
W8" x D23" x H9" $1200


Tim Rowanの紹介で僕が駿平君に初めて会ったのは、彼が未だLong island University で教えていた頃、2008年だった。


Sara Japanese Potteryでの彼の最初の個展の後、私の家に滞在した彼と夜遅くまで語り合い、ひととなりに触れた。


半ば、私の願いを無理に聞いてもらうような形で、恐竜を作ってもらって小さなショーを企画した。"Wood fired dinosaur " 薪窯恐竜だ。

11体の恐竜が届いた。T REX、ステゴサウルス、トリケラトプス、大きさの違う薪窯恐竜たち、どれも、動きの一瞬をうまく捉えたリアルな恐竜だ。中でも、一番大きなT REXは圧巻である。全長23インチ、低くががめた姿勢は今まさに獲物に飛びかかろうとしているかのごとくで、牙をむき出した口から荒い息遣いが聞こえて 来そうだ。

太く大きな後ろ足は、重心を支え、長い尻尾は垂れ下がり、横に振られたかたちにカーブしている。小さな前足は頭の下に保たれ、いつでも掴みかかれるような 姿勢で、右に少し傾いだ頭がとてもリアルだ。決して細部まで細かく作り込んでいるわけではないが、あくまで本物のスケール感を意識して作られたのは一目瞭 然。筋肉の動きが見えるようだ。



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