Kei (Mindscapes)

16 500,00

Ken Mihara (b. 1958)
Kei (Mindscapes)
H : 35 cm L : 54 cm D : 30 cm



Mihara’s work is reminiscent of the spiritual aesthetics of ceremonial vessels. Moreover, his ceramics embody a serenity that is linked to Zen doctrine.
Pristine forests, rugged ravines, peaceful rivers and tranquil mountains are the landscapes that artist Ken Mihara (1958- ) saw as a child in the majestic setting of Izumo in western Japan. With a natural environment of great beauty, steeped in the mysticism of the ancient Shinto tradition, Mihara’s solemn sandstones are born of and influenced by deeply idyllic surroundings. His works, however, are much more than odes to nature. They are first and foremost a window into the artist’s soul and monuments of personal expression that capture and convey the Ken Mihara of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
No man can jump into the same river twice. Similarly, Mihara introduces new forms every three or four years, abandoning entire bodies of work, no matter how popular. Mihara’s sculptures must change because he himself has changed, just as the seasons change.
Mihara’s works created from 2007 to 2020 stand as a historical record, explaining why more than forty museums have acquired this body of work over the past 13 years. These clay poems have captivated a global audience, propelling the artist into the ranks of the most sought-after artists in contemporary Japanese ceramics. And it is with the unveiling of each new series that the global audience waits with anticipation.
Yet, regardless of the stage of his career, each of Mihara’s works is immediately recognisable as a Mihara work. It is the visceral appeal of his taste for clay, the almost Zen-like presence that emanates from his silhouettes, which are inimitable to any other artist, and which have not changed over the years.
The artist does not make sketches or models. Instead, he lets his hands “engage in a conversation with the clay”, and it is through this sinuous dialogue that Mihara discovers his legendary forms. He has always preferred the ambiguity, uncertainty and, most importantly, the unpredictability of the hand-rolling technique, and through these silent conversations, Mihara not only finds the form, but himself.
Similarly, Mihara’s sculptures do not use glazes, ashes or slip. Instead, each landscape of colour pours out of the clay itself through multiple long, high intensity gas kiln firings. Mihara believes that the clay has a distinct memory for colour. If one understands this characteristic, one is able to “unlock” the memories trapped in the clay, revealing kaleidoscopes of colour, simply by the way it is fired. Yet Mihara takes no data, and simply controls the fires in her kiln based on her memory alone.
Mihara’s Kei (Mindscapes) series is characterised by movement and energy, with features such as double-walled interiors that spin and spiral. Functionality is removed, as is symmetry, revealing a tension between inner and outer space, as well as the essential qualities of clay. The variation of shapes and firings, the interconnection between exterior and interior, the return of straight and curved lines, Ken Mihara works at the top of his game.
He has been exhibited and awarded at the All Japan Ceramic Exhibition (Nihon Togei Ten), the Asahi Ceramic Exhibition, the National Traditional Crafts Exhibition (Nihon Dento Kogei Ten) and the Tanabe Museum Chanoyu no Zokei Ten (Modern tea forms Sculpture Exhibition). In 2008, he received the prestigious Japan Ceramic Society Award. He has exhibited in Europe and America and is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Tanabe Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art, among others.

Quote selection:

 Mihara’s solemn stoneware can be said to have been borne and influenced from idyllic environs…”

Wahei Aoyama, “Ken Mihara – In silent stoneware, serenity and inner self”,

Craft Arts International, issue 87, March 2013, p18


“When one looks beyond the ridges of Mihara’s stoneware, one can “see” the presence of the artist.”

Wahei Aoyama, “Ken Mihara – In silent stoneware, serenity and inner self”,

Craft Arts International, issue 87, March 2013, p22

“The evocative gravitas of his work springs not simply from the clay of Izumo and the physical beauty of the landscape but

from the spiritual ground where gods still reside.” Jeffrey Hantover, “Mihara Ken – The power of chance”, Ceramics Art and Perception, issue 73, 2008, p83

Ref. Metropolitan Museum