“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 local farmers in rural Hyogo Prefecture, and to work the land and care for the livestock at an agricultural school nearby. 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 ceramics in Japan 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 either 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. Osaka, Japan, 1969) 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 was showcased in a two-artist exhibition at Blum & Poe, Tokyo (2020) and a group exhibition at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Takashi Murakami, which later traveled to Blum & Poe, New York, NY (2015).