Teppei Ono and Akihiro Nikaido. This exhibition by the two artists of different generations and different ways of thinking originated from a mental crisis that Nikaido felt in the solitary environment of the Covid-19 disaster. They met in Paris several years ago, and although they have only seen each other a few times since then, the encounter left a strong impression on Nikaido. When his mind reached its limit, he visited Teppei in Kochi and requested a two-person exhibition, which Teppei accepted, and this two-person exhibition came true. This summer, Nikaido and we visited Teppei's studio to have dialogue for three days. It was a discussion in which the two artists confronted each other with their beliefs about the reasons for making, and about the relation between life and art.
''When I was a teenager, human relationships and society seemed very inorganic to me. I think that is why I was attracted to things like clay and fire as opposites. From then on, I wanted to work with clay, and that hasn't changed. I want to keep touching the clay, and keep changing my body, not thinking with my head. I have a sense that I am always saved by touching clay.''
''The reason why I make pottery is that I have something like a hole in my heart. In order to fill that hole, I just keep on making. I am not good at socializing by nature, but I can connect to people by making works. My vessels are the expression of myself, and at the same time, it is indispensable for me in order to relate to people.''
-Why do you express yourself through making vessels for daily life as art?
''When I was younger, my works were quite far from the sense of vessels for daily life, and I was making things that carried violent impulses and emotions as they were, but I began to wonder if that would change or convey anything. Instead, I thought that I should express something that enveloped the other person, something that sublimated the violence within me. I think it was the tipping point for me. Maybe the suppression of my violent nature is what brought me closer to daily life.''
''The reason for holding tea events is that we come together on the spot and become one through a tea bowl. There, everyone gives their all for the moment only. Something is sublimated there, and then it disappears. That is important for me and for my friends.''
''I believe that making art is work of guts.
I go deep into my heart and face it,
and confirm the existence of something terrible inside of me.
I think it is that kind of work.''
''I want to unravel the discomfort in my heart even a little.
I believe that I can do it through making vessels.
I feel that I have been saved by art,
so I believe that my work should be able to save others as well.''
''When I started making ceramics, I learned that clay is not clean, and that there were accumulated hardships and lives of many ordinary people before ceramics became a sophisticated craft. I appreciate I make a living as a potter after those things and people that have been buried in time.''
They both chose to work with clay and make vessels as art. Teppei faces his own violence deep inside of his heart, and tries to recover what we have lost, by creating works that sublimate the violence. Nikaido thinks about his existence in the vastness of time and space, and feels connected to others in the past, present, and future by creating his works.
What is art? We believe it is something that comes from the depths of the heart and is transmitted to someone else's heart. And the source of its power must lie in life itself. We hope you will feel by heart the works of art born from the depths of these two artists' hearts.