Yuki Nara’s Porcelain that converts the Beauty of the oldest Jomon Earthenware to state of the art Beauty.

Yuji Akimoto秋元雄史

I cannot remember when was the first time I saw Yuki nara’s work, but I probably started noticing his work since the graduation exhibition of the Tajimi Ceramic Design Institute in 2016. I remember a young artist glanced at posters or flyers, and crafted a pottery by just imaginary designing sense. The characteristic of Nara’s work is to emphasize the form by using the hard texture of white porcelain and sharp outlines rather than mass and volume.

The Jomon pottery that Nara refers to is from the middle Jomon period, which is known for its excessive decorative forms, but he observes it from an architectural and design point of view and draws out the forms in a linear fashion, as if scanning, and gives form to them as an expression of lines. It is interesting to note that the process of creating a three-dimensional object from a flat surface, like an architectural drawing, is more akin to architecture and design than to the soft clay of ceramics. This is an interesting point of view.

The family business is Ohi-yaki, a pottery of tea bowls that has been in existence since the Edo period. Since he is the eldest son, he is half destined to be the successor, but he is surprisingly aloof and is studying architecture instead of crafts at Tokyo University of the Arts to broaden his view of things. Surprisingly, he seems to have learned a lot from the opposing views of ceramics and architecture, and it seems to have broadened his perspective. After that, he went on to study at the Tajimi Ceramic Design Institute, the perfect place to learn about contemporary ceramics, and then went on to study architecture at the graduate school of Tokyo University of the Arts, graduating in 2017. He has been studying architecture and making porcelain at the same time, which is quite hard work.

In 2015, his work was selected for the 6th Kikuchi Biennial Exhibition. In the aforementioned 2016, his work was purchased at the graduation exhibition of the Ceramic Design Institute in Tajimi. The following year, in 2017, he was awarded the Special Jury Prize in the competition section of the 3rd World Craft Triennale in Kanazawa. Incidentally, the prize at that time was named after me, who was one of the judges. In the meantime, he has also participated in overseas art fairs such as SOFA CHICAGO in 2016 and COLLECT in 2017.

Now, according to him, he is heading back to the world of architecture, but at the same time, he continues to produce craft works like this one, so it seems that his creative approach from both sides will continue for a while. It will be interesting to see how he manages to combine the worlds of craft and architecture, including this solo exhibition. It is amazing how well his talent evolved. Rather than the soft clay of ceramics, his work is closer to that of architecture and design, and the delicacy of the Jomon forms is an interesting and unprecedented perspective.

Yuji Akimoto
Art Critic
Professor and Director, The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts
Specially Appointed Director, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa




2015年には第六回菊池ビエンナーレ展に入選、前述の2016年には、多治見の陶磁器意匠研究所の卒業展では買上げ、そして、その翌年の2017年には第三回金沢・世界工芸トリエンナーレのコンペティション部門で審査員特別賞を受賞している。ちなみにその時の賞は審査員のひとりであった私の名前を冠した賞である。その間にも2016年のSOFA CHICAGOや2017年COLLECTなどの海外のアートフェアにも参加している。



At the Intersection of Architecture and Ceramics

Atsushi Kitagawara北川原 温

Yuki Nara graduated from the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, and entered my laboratory at the same graduate school. He is, in a word, an “exceptional newcomer”. In his design exercise as an undergraduate, he amazed us by drawing a number of drawings the size of tatami mats, which, when connected together, formed a single architecture. In graduate school, he challenged

the grand idea of renewing an entire city, and proposed a highly socially significant project to revitalize a city with a declining ceramic industry through ceramics. He conducted a detailed field survey and even collected samples of the soil in the city, a thorough investigation that reminded us that he was a potter related by blood. The scale and density of his proposal was unparalleled, and he impressed the professors. For his urban design, Yuki Nara was awarded the Yoshida Isoya Prize and completed his graduate studies at the top of his class. This prize commemorates Isoya Yoshida, a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts and a major figure in Japanese architecture who designed many sophisticated Japanese buildings and was awarded the Japan Art Academy Prize and the Order of Cultural Merit. Yuki’s grandfather (the 10th Ohi Chozaemon, Ohi Toyasai) was a member of the Japan Art Academy and a master potter who was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit. His grandfather was also an extraordinary man, hale and hearty in his 90s who yells at young people, “What are the young people doing these days, modern art is not as easy as you think!!!” to fire up their motive. His father (the 11th Ohi Chozaemon) is also an internationally active and creative potter. Her mother, who married into a famous family in the ancient city of Kanazawa and raised three children, Yuki, the eldest son, the second son who graduated from the University of Tokyo and works for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the eldest daughter who is an aspiring actress, is also very powerful and admired by women. Growing up in such a house, it is probably natural that Yuki is an extraordinary person.

Now, I would like to share some thoughts about Yuki’s ceramic works. While his grandfather and father handled the clay and created shapes very intuitively, Yuki makes detailed calculations, repeats geometrical verifications, and carefully and rigorously creates shapes like a scientist looking through a microscope. However, the finished work has an instantaneous form, like a flower frozen at the moment it opens, and an instantaneous technique that captures a momentary phenomenon. This must have been influenced by the fact that he studied architecture at the University of the Arts. Eventually he would have to take on the name Ohi Chozaemon, but at the urging of his father, he decided to study architecture and enrolled in the architecture department at the University of the Arts. His father believed that studying architecture would be useful even if he eventually took over the family business as a potter.

Come to think of it, Le Corbusier studied painting and sculpture before going on to architecture. I would like Yuki to master both ceramics and architecture. He has such a great potential. He is extraordinarily very tolerant. I hope that one day he will open up a completely new field where ceramics and architecture are fused together. Tradition and innovation are inextricably linked. Repeating the same thing over and over again does not make tradition that is with life. Tradition becomes a more evolved and advanced tradition through innovation. I believe that the future activities of Yuki Nara will show the evolution of tradition.

Atsushi Kitagawara
Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University of the Arts






北川原 温

The Two Encounters

Kengo Kuma隈 研吾

A new talent, Yuki Nara, has grown up from the Ohi-yaki family in Kanazawa.
Yuki Nara studied architecture at Tokyo University of the Arts, where I am a specially appointed professor, and learned ceramics from his father, Toshio Ohi.
I am interested in what his study of architecture has given him and what it is going to give him in the future.

It seems like the experience of encountering a different genre of architecture overlaps with the historical process of the creation of the unique Ohi-yaki.
Ohi-yaki is very unique ceramics in the world, born from the encounter of technologies and experiences.
One is the encounter of two completely different technologies, pottery and swords.
Originally, potteries were made in one of the mass production methods, using large scale equipment such as climbing kilns.
Since dishes are used in daily life, such mass production was required.
However, Sen no Rikyu applied the sword smith technique of using a bellow to generate high temperatures in a small indoor kiln to create dishes as art through single item production, not a mass production.
With the use of bellows, the dishes transformed into an art.
This revolution led to the creation of Raku-yaki and Ohi-yaki made by hand building without the use of a potter’s wheel, which is one of a kind in the world.
In addition, Ohi-yaki experienced another encounter.
This was the encounter with the unique place of Kanazawa. This encounter gave birth to Ohiyaki’s unique candy glaze, which opened up a soft world different from the ascetic black of Raku-yaki.
Yuki Nara’s encounter with architecture may bring society the same kind of transformation as the history of pottery’s encounter with swords and pottery’s transformation into art.
Since it was possible to turn mass-produced dishes into art, it is certain that dishes can turn into architecture.
I imagine that Yuki is thinking about this as he bake those violent and sharp-edged dishes.
I also hope that Kanazawa will provide a new stimulus to him.
What Yuki is facing is not the Kanazawa of the time of lord Maeda, who created Ohi-yaki, but the Kanazawa of the new era of Japan, in which the regions play a leading role.
The Kanazawa of the new era is being reborn and weighed down as the Sea of Japan and a new geographic balance in which China is becoming increasingly important. What will these two encounters bring to Yuki?
I can’t take my eyes off him for a while.

Kengo Kuma
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo



隈 研吾

Frozen Vibration

Yuko Hasegawa長谷川 祐子

Nara is a ceramist who designs architectural spaces. Architecture is called ‘frozen music’ as it freezes the resonance that fills the space as it is, and gives it shape-space.

When did we start to analyze shape as stationary? Jomon flame-style pottery was created by those who wanted to hold the fluctuations of the flame in their hands, and to have that sense of vitality. It wasn’t a “decoration”, but an ongoing “flame” experience felt by those people. That energy is then consequently transferred to what is being fired, and becomes the source of human life through food.

Nara’s interest in Jomon pottery resonates with that. His work freezes the “1/f no yuragi”, the pulses and vibrations that all living things have and emit to resonate with each other. I would like to call Nara’s creations something like ‘Frozen Vibration’. What he creates, they are not to be labeled the same as “ordinary objects”.

What he creates are like devices, a catalyst that differentiates and trembles time and space, loses boundaries, and renews things, allowing two phenomena to cross paths.

Nara was first called a product of the ‘Era of Wind’, starting in December 2020. The life of a flower is reduced to a particle, or perhaps a monad, making it precisely and complexly resonate. It will be realized in a collaboration with Nikolai Bergman.

I would slowly enter the hall. You will feel only the vibration of the space and leave without focusing on anything. I think that’s the greatest respect for Nara’s work, and the best way to experience it.

Yuko Hasegawa
Art Critic, Curator

奈良は建築空間を設計できる陶芸家である。建築はfrozen musicと呼ばれる、それは空間に満ちた共鳴をそのまま凍結させて形―空間をあたえるからだ。


奈良の縄文土器への関心はそのこととレゾナンスしている。彼の作品は1/fのゆらぎを、生命あるものがすべてもっていて互いに響き合うために発しているパルスやヴァイブレーション、これを凍結する。Frozen vibration,私が奈良のつくりだしたもの、をこのように呼びたいと思う。彼のつくりだしたもの、それはそこにあるオブジェとしての陶芸作品を指すのではない。


奈良は2020年の12月から始まったという「風の時代」の申し子である。花の命をパーテイクル、あるいはモナドに還元して緻密に複雑にレゾナンスさせる ニコライバーグマンとのコラボレーションが実現するという。


長谷川 祐子