More about Black & White Head, 2011
This is a series of 25 life casts of the artist’s head and face, begun in 2010. While each cast is nearly identical, the glazing, colour palette and design of each is unique and serves to reference specific themes and concepts from the artist’s past works. Kondo has previously worked in ceramic slab construction making these life casts a major departure for him.
The series looks back on Takahiro Kondo’s life as an artist and revisits the many different stages of decoration he has used in his 25 years working with ceramics. He has used a cast of his own head to symbolically represent the stages of life he has gone through in that time, and created this series at a time when he felt he had come full cycle and was ready to begin anew. The theme of rebirth, and reincarnation is present in the work.
The nature of water and man’s relationship to it is a theme present throughout Kondo’s career. His signature gintekisai glaze, or mist technique, is repeatedly used to represent this. The glaze provides a luminescent finish and strong textural quality that mimics different aspects of water – mist, droplets, rivulets, fog as well as the way water runs, drops, pools and clings to the surface. Beyond simple representation however, Kondo’s work demonstrates an environmental concern for the human disruption of our natural water supply.
Also, heads glazed with gold and precious metals draw attention to mankind’s obsession with material goods and excess to which much of our environmental imbalance can be attributed.
This series is Kondo’s first use of self-portraiture and by incorporating himself into the works they become deeply personal. The water-like glaze that has washed over his works in the past wash over his head and face. This not only demonstrates continuity between his past and present works, but Kondo’s readiness to move beyond the decorative and create conceptual work suggestive of his beliefs and concerns.