Q&A | Ryota Akiyama

We interviewed artist of the current exhibition, "New Era of Japanese Pottery CRACKS AND SHRINKS"

Ryota Akiyama

Based in Mashiko, Tochigi Prefecture, Akiyama creates works through researching the origins of materials and historical backgrounds. By using contemporary elements as filters, Akiyama enhancesthe update of values, and the resulting works interact with the people and the space it is placed, leading tonew relationships and functions, making the process itself part of his artwork.


About the work and production process:

Q: Please tell us about your production environment and process.

 Since last fall, I have relocated from Tokyo and have been producing my works at my studio in Mashiko, Tochigi Prefecture. "CRACK AND SHRINK" is a work made by painting water-based paint on a base of styrofoam and then baking it. When heat is applied to the styrofoam at an appropriate temperature, its volume shrinks to about one-fourth its original size. Through this process, various textures are created by the type of water-based paint applied to the surface and the amount of medium used, which enhances cracks and shrinkage.

Q: Can you tell us what inspired you to focus on polystyrene (styrofoam) and what you find interesting about the production process?

At that time, I was exploring various materials while delving into aspects that are often associated with the history and making of objects and materials that are incorporated into my works. While experimenting with styrofoam which was a material easily available to me, a phenomenon emerged as a byproduct and became the basis for my work. 

The resulting piece was created somewhat accidentally, with an outcome that deviated from my initial expectations. Even during the process of creating the work, there were certain elements that were beyond my control, and unexpected expressions occasionally emerged, which added to the enjoyment of the creative process.


The act of creation

Q: What circumstances or moments in your daily life give you the energy to create?

 Since I moved my studio from Tokyo to Mashiko, I have become closer to nature and have become more sensitive to the energy that is influenced by temperature, humidity, and the presence of sunlight on any given day. I am searching for a different perspective on things than I had when I was in Tokyo.

Q: What is something you cannot compromise on when it comes to creating?

I believe that the process of creating a work is one of the most important elements. Therefore, I want to continue creating by making prototypes and conducting experiments on my own as much as possible, making trial and error the main axis of my work.

Q: Can you tell me about things that have influenced you so far? (Anything is fine, whether it be a thing, a person, or an experience.)

In my youth, I was interested in cooking and my uncle, who was a Japanese cuisine chef and had bought me a butcher knife, taught me how to fillet and arrange fish. Filleting required a precise amount of strength and accuracy, while dish decoration demanded aesthetic and originality. As a child, I found it difficult and frustrating when I couldn't do it, so I remember repeating and practicing many times. This was my first experience of touching creative work. Recently, I've had the opportunity to curate exhibitions and have received good inspiration from creatives in other fields whom I've met through that work.

Q: Any comments on your upcoming exhibition at CIBONE Brooklyn? 

I'm very excited to see the different reactions that come from a different cultural sphere than Japan. The works are a mixture of various elements, including ceramic techniques, so I wish for the viewers to feel the amount of information in my works by actually touching or looking at them.


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