Sueharu Fukami

Born in 1947 to a Kyoto family that manufactured porcelain tableware, Sueharu Fukami was exposed an early age to a variety of ceramic styles and working methods, experimenting widely before he developed a unique practice that has earned him a global reputation both for technical mastery and for single-minded pursuit of perfection in form and finish.

 

Fukami sometimes uses a potter's wheel, but the majority of his soaring, graceful abstract sculptures are created by forcing liquid porcelain clay under high pressure into large plaster molds which he uses to produce editions typically limited to eight casts, no two of them exactly alike. Once a cast is dry enough to be removed from its molds, Fukami scrapes and polishes it into its final shape before firing it in an electric kiln whose reducing (oxygen-starved) atmosphere enables him to coat his sculptures in seihakuji, a luminous bluish-white glaze originating in eleventh-century China. Every aspect of his work is meticulously planned in advance, especially the dynamic interaction of color and form through variations in glaze depth that produce subtle modulations in the seihakuji palette.

 

Fukami's artistic achievements have been recognized by a wide range of honors including the Grand Prize at the International Ceramic Exhibition at Faenza, Italy and two Gold Medals from the Japan Ceramics Society. His work is in private collections and museums all over the world including the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; and many other American institutions.

 

Thomsen Gallery has enjoyed a close relationship with Sueharu Fukami for three decades, mounting successful solo exhibitions in 2008, 2014 and 2018. He continues to dazzle us with his perfectionism, his commitment to technical innovation, and his sophisticated, even aristocratic, artistic persona. His mature abstract style embodies a contemporary global vision, at the same reflecting a traditional Japanese disregard for the time and effort required to produce works of such uncompromising beauty.

 

Artist Biography

1947  Born in Kyoto

1965  Graduated from Kyoto Arts and Crafts Training Center

            14th Zen Kansai Bijutsu Ten (All-Kansai Art Exhibition)

1967  Participated for the first time in the Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition)

            19th Kyō Ten (Kyoto Art Exhibition)

            20th Kyōto-fu Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Kyoto Prefecture Arts and Crafts Exhibition)

1969  Prize, 18th Zen Kansai Bijutsu Ten (All-Kansai Art Exhibition)

            Eighth Nihon Gendai Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Japan Contemporary Arts and Crafts 

            Exhibition)

1970  Ninth Nihon Gendai Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Japan Contemporary Arts and Crafts   

            Exhibition)

1971  First Nihon Tōgei Ten (Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition), Avant-garde Section

            Third Prize, 20th Zen Kansai Bijutsu Ten (All-Kansai Art Exhibition)

1972  Yomiuri Newspaper Award

1973  Second Nihon Tōgei Ten (Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition), Avant-garde Section

1974  Prize, 27th Kyōto-fu Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Kyoto Prefecture Arts and Crafts Exhibition)

            Second Prize, 23rd Zen Kansai Bijutsu Ten (All-Kansai Art Exhibition)

1975  Prize, 28th Kyōto-fu Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Kyoto Prefecture Arts and Crafts Exhibition)

            Married Takahashi Chieko

1976  Commemorative Prize, 15th Nihon Gendai Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Japan Contemporary 

            Arts and Crafts Exhibition)

1977  Solo exhibition at Odakyū Department Store, Tokyo

            Mayor’s Prize, 29th Kyō Ten (Kyoto Art Exhibition)

1978  Solo exhibition, Gallery Third Floor, Kyoto

            Grand Prize, 31st Kyōto-Fu Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Kyoto Prefecture Arts and Crafts 

            Exhibition)

            Kyoto Newspaper Prize, 30th Kyoto Art Exhibition

1979  Solo exhibition, Hankyū Department Store, Osaka

            Members’ Prize, First Shin Nihon Kōgei Ten (Annual Japan Contemporary Arts and              Crafts Exhibition)

            Mayor’s Prize, 31st Kyō Ten (Kyoto Art Exhibition)

            28th Zen Kansai Bijutsu Ten (All-Kansai Art Exhibition)

1980  Solo exhibition, Asahi Gallery, Kyoto

            Newcomer Prize, 30th Kyōto Kōgei Bijutsu Ten (Kyoto Arts and Crafts Exhibition)

            International Academy of Ceramics Miniature Exhibition, Kyoto Prefectural Center 

            for Arts and Culture

            Hana to Tō Ten (Flower Arrangement and Ceramics Exhibition), Kintetsu 

            Department Store, Kyoto

1981  International Academy of Ceramics Miniature Exhibition, Musée des Arts Décoratifs,

            Paris

            Visiting Professor, University of Alberta, Canada

1981  Kyoto City Artistic Newcomer Award

1982  Grand Prize, Tenth Chūnichi Kokusai Tōgei Ten (Chūnichi International Exhibition of

            Ceramic Arts)

            Solo exhibition, Gallery Nakamura, Kyoto

1983  Birth of daughter, Tomoko

            First Zen Nihon Dentō Kōgei Senbatsu Ten (All-Japan Selected Exhibition of 

            Traditional Crafts), Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya

            Seventh Nihon Tōgei Ten (Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition), General Section

            Governor of Aichi Prefecture Prize, 11th Chūnichi Kokusai Tōgei Ten (Chūnichi

            International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts)

            Purchase Prize, First Kyōto Kōgei Bijutsu Senbatsu Ten (Kyoto Selected Arts and

            Crafts Exhibition)

1984  Ceramic Plaque 22, Wako Hall, Tokyo

            Special Prize, 16th Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition)

            Encouragement Prize, Seventh Kyōto Kōgei Sakka Kyōkai Ten (Kyoto Artists’     

            Association Exhibition)

            Second Prize (Tōkai TV Prize), 12th Chūnichi Kokusai Tōgei Ten (Chūnichi

            International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts)

            Judge, 36th Kyō Ten (Kyoto Art Exhibition)

1985  ’85 Senbatsu Ten (Exhibition of Selected Fine Arts), Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

            Grand Prix, 43rd Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte, Faenza, Italy

            Encouragement Prize, 23rd Asahi Tōgei Ten (Asahi Ceramic Exhibition)

            Grand Prix, 13th Chūnichi Kokusai Tōgei Ten (Chūnichi International Exhibition of

            Ceramic Arts)

            Hors Concours, 17th Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition)

            Excellence Prize (Sankei Newspaper Prize), 11th Ashita o Hiraku Nihon Shin Kōgei

            Ten (Contemporary Arts and Crafts of Japan Exhibition)

            Invited guest, Hakuji no Bi Ten (The Beauty of White Porcelain Exhibition), Kyushu

            Ceramic Museum

            Invited guest, Third Biennale de Châteauroux, Musée Bertrand, Châteauroux,

            France

1986  Solo exhibition, Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany

            Solo exhibition, 44th Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte, Faenza, Italy

            Tsuchi: Imēji to Katachi 1981–1985 (Clay: Image and Form 1981–1985), Seibu

            Department Store, Ōtsu and Yūrakucho Art Forum, Tokyo

            Chōkoku Shōhin Ten (Small Sculpture Exhibition), Gallery Haku, Osaka

            Invited Guest, Fourth Nihon Gendai Kurafuto Ten (Asahi Contemporary Crafts

            Exhibition)

            Art Japonais Contemporain, Gallery Kisaragi, Paris

            Rotating Exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Ceramics in the United States and

            Eastern Europe, sponsored by the Japan Foundation

            Bronze Prize, First Kokusai Tōgeiten Mino (Mino International Ceramic Exhibition)

1987  Solo exhibition, Aoyama Green Gallery, Tokyo

            Solo exhibition, Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains, Lausanne,

            Switzerland

            Solo exhibition, Maya Behn Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

            Solo exhibition, Museum voor Sierkunst en Industrielle, Ghent, Belgium

            Solo exhibition, Maghi Bettini Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands

            Invited guest, Ninth Nihon Tōgei Ten (Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition)

            Kijō Kūkan no tame no Obujē Ten (Ceramic Art on the Desk Exhibition), Seibu

            Department Store, Shibuya, Tokyo

            Chōkoku Shōhin Ten (Small Sculpture Exhibition), Gallery Haku, Osaka

            ’87 Senbatsu Ten (Exhibition of Selected Fine Arts), Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

            Titograd Prize, Second World Triennial Exhibition of Small Ceramics, Zagreb

1988  Solo exhibition, Seibu Takanawakai, Tokyo

            Rotating Exhibition of Traditional Japanese Crafts in Eastern Europe, sponsored by

            the Japan Foundation

            Three Ceramic Artists, exhibition organized by the French Ministry of Culture,

            Limoges, France

            Contemporary Japanese Ceramics, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR

            Prize, Eighth Ten Ten, Tenri Biennāre (Tenri Biennale Exhibition)

            Tsukue o Meguru Obujē Ten (Ceramic Art on the Desk Exhibition), Shibuya Seibu,

            Tokyo

            Asahi Tōgei Senbatsu Sakka Ten (Asahi Selected Ceramic Artists Exhibition),

            Nagoya and Tokyo

            Stopped submitting works to the Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition)

1989  Céramiques de l’Ère Showa, Europalia ’89, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Mons, Belgium

            Invited guest, Triennale de la Porcelaine, Nyon, Switzerland

            Invited gallery artist, 46th Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte, Faenza,

            Italy

1990  Tōgei no Genzai: Kyōto Kara Ten (The Now in Japanese Ceramics—Message from

            Artists in Kyoto: A Drama of Space Enacted by Ten Clay Artists), Tokyo, Kyoto,

            Osaka, and Yokohama

            Judge, 42nd Kyō Ten (Kyoto Art Exhibition)

1991  Solo exhibition, Takanawa Art Salon, Tokyo

            Solo exhibition, Aoyama Green Gallery, Tokyo

            Judge, 47th Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte, Faenza, Italy

1992  Solo exhibition, Gallery Yuri, Fukuoka

            Tōgei no Genzaisei Ten (Contemporary in Ceramics Exhibition), Kobe and Tokyo

            MOA Okada Mokichi Merit Award, MOA Museum of Art, Atami

            Japan Ceramic Society Award

            La Céramique au Japon, un Art Majeur: 58 Créateurs Contemporains, Mitsukoshi

            Étoile, Paris

1993  Solo exhibition, Kochūkyo, Tokyo

            Nihon, Kankoku Gendai Zōkei Sakka Kōryū Ten (Exchange Exhibition between

            Japanese and Korean Artists), Osaka Contemporary Arts Center

            Gendai Tōgei Utsuwa Ten (Contemporary Ceramic Works: Utsuwa), The Museum of

            Modern Art, Saitama

            Modern Japanese Ceramics in Japanese Collections, Japan Society Gallery, New

            York; New Orleans Museum of Art; Honolulu Academy of Arts

1994  In Touch: International Craft, Winter Olympics, Maihaugen, Lillehammer, Norway

            Heian Kento 1200nen Kinen Bijutsu Senbatsu Ten (Kyoto 1200th Anniversary

            Celebration Exhibition), Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

            Kokusai Gendai Tōgei Ten: Konnichi no Utsuwa to Zōkei (Current Trends in

            Ceramics: Vessels and Objects), Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Seto

            Clay Work, The National Museum of Art, Osaka

            Kyōto Sōsaku Tōgei no Nagare (Kyoto Ceramic Art Trends), The Museum of Kyoto

            International Academy of Ceramics Members’ Exhibition, Prague

1995  Solo exhibition, Aoyama Green Gallery

            Gendai: Kyōto no Kōgei Ten (Today: Arts and Crafts in Kyoto), The Museum of

            Kyoto

            Kyōto no Bijutsu, Kinō, Kyō, Ashita: Sakazume Atsuo, Fukami Sueharu (Art in Kyoto,

            Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Sueharu Fukami and Atsuo Sakazume), Kyoto

            Municipal Museum of Art

            Faentsua no Kaze Ten (Wind from Faenza Exhibition), Ceratopia Toki, Gifu

            Japanese Studio Craft: Tradition and the Avant-garde, Victoria and Albert Museum,

            London

            Invited guest, ’95 Kanazawa Taishō Konpetishon (Kanazawa Arts and Crafts

            Competition)

            Contemporary Japanese Art and Crafts Exhibition, Museum für Kunst und

            Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany

            International Academy of Ceramics Members’ Exhibition, Prague

            Kyoto Art and Culture Award

            Judge, Triennale de la Porcelaine, Nyon, Switzerland

1996  Solo exhibition, Tenmaya, Hiroshima

            Jiki no Hyōgen: 1990nendai no Tenkai (New Expression in Porcelain:

            Developments in the 1990s), National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

            International Academy of Ceramics Members’ Exhibition, Saga Prefectural Museum

            of Art

            Eighth Kyōto Bijutsu Bunka Jushō Kinen Ten (Kyoto Art and Culture Awards

            Exhibition), The Museum of Kyoto

            Gendai no Tōgeibi: “Rin” Ten (Quiet Clarity “RIN”: Beauty in Contemporary

            Ceramics), The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

            Santorī Taishōten ’96 (’96 Suntory Prize Exhibition), Suntory Museum, Tokyo

            Mainichi Art Award

1997  Solo exhibition, Kochūkyo, Tokyo

            Invited artist, Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition: The Contemporary Teapot, Museum

            of International Ceramic Art, Grimmerhus, Denmark

            Merit Award, Kyoto Prefecture Culture Awards

            Invited guest, 14th Nihon Tōgei Ten (Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition)

            15th Kyōto-fu Bunka Jushōsha Ten (Kyoto Prefecture Culture Award-Winners’

            Exhibition), The Museum of Kyoto

1998  Solo exhibition, Takanawa Art Salon, Tokyo

            Solo exhibition, Contemporary Ceramic Art Kandori, Tokyo

            11th MOA Okada Mokichi Shō Jūnen no Ayumi Ten (Okada Mokichi Award,

            Decade of History: Award Recipients and Their Works Exhibition), MOA Museum

            of Art, Shizuoka

1999  50 Maîtres: Les Arts Appliqués dans le Japan Contemporain, Paris

            Artisti dal Mondo, Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy

2000  Solo exhibition, Mitsukoshi Department Store, Tokyo

            Small Ceramic Sculpture, Kunstforum, Kirchberg, Switzerland

            International Academy of Ceramics Members’ Exhibition, Keramion Museum,

            Frechen, Germany

            NHK Eisei Hōsō Yakimono no Tanbō 2000 Ten (2000 NHK Satellite Broadcasting

            Ceramic Quest Exhibition), Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store, Tokyo

2001  Solo exhibition, Gallery Dōjima, Osaka

            Gendai Tōgei no Seiei Ten (Leaders of Contemporary Japanese Ceramics), Ibaraki   

            Ceramic Art Museum, Shizuoka

2002  Solo exhibition, Garth Clark Gallery, New York

            Gendai no Kōgei: Dentō to Kakushin, Kyōto no Rokunin (Handicrafts Today: Six

            Kyoto Artists: Tradition in Innovation, Innovation in Tradition), Mie Prefectural Art

            Museum, Tsu

            Contemporary Japanese Crafts, Indonesia and Malaysia, sponsored by the Japan

            Foundation

            Judge, Sixth Kokusai Tōjikiten Mino (Mino International Ceramics Competition)

            Kaikan Kinen Ten “Gendai Tōgei no 100nen Ten”: Nihon Tōgei no Tenkai (The

            Legacy of Modern Ceramic Art, Part I: From Artisan to Artist, The Evolution of

            Japanese Ceramic Art), Inaugural Exhibition, Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu

2003  Solo exhibition, Genesis of a Genius: The Early Ceramics of Fukami Sueharu, The

            Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art at the Clark Center, Hanford, CA

            Now and Now: World Contemporary Ceramics, Icheon World Ceramic Center,

            South Korea

            Japan, Keramik und Fotographie, Tradition und Gegenwart, Deichtorhallen,

            Hamburg, Germany

            Japanese Ceramics Today, Musée Tomo, Tokyo

            Gendai Nihon no Tōgei: Juyō to Hasshin (Contemporary Japanese Ceramics:

            Admired Traditions and New Messages), Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum,

            Tokyo

2004  Katachi ga Kiru: Nihon no Gendai Tōgei (Cut by Shape: Japanese Contemporary

            Ceramics), Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu

2005  Solo exhibition, Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy

            Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century, Museum of Fine Arts,

            Boston

            Faszination Keramik: Moderne japanische Meisterwerke in Ton aus der Sammlung   

            Gisela Freudenberg, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany

            Transformations: The Language of Craft, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

            Judge, 54th Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte, Faenza, Italy

2006  Nihon Tōgei 100nen no Seika (The Quintessence of Modern Japanese Ceramics),

            Ibaraki

            Ceramic Art Museum, Kasama

2007  Fourth Cheongju International Craft Biennale, South Korea

            Faïence: Cento Anni del Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza, Faenza,

            Italy

2008  Solo exhibition, Erik Thomsen Asian Art, New York

            Kyoto City Person of Cultural Merit

            Celebrating Kyoto: Modern Arts from Boston’s Sister City, Museum of Fine Arts,

            Boston

2009  Lecturer, Rad Smith Japanese Art Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

2010  Excellence Award, Gendai no Cha: Zōkei no Jiyū (Tea Ceramics Today: Freedom of

            Form), Third Musée Tomo Grand Prix Exhibition, Musée Tomo, Tokyo

2011  Qingyun Liudong (Ambient Green Flow: The Origin and Development of East

            Asian Celadon Exhibition), New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan

2012  Gold Medal, Japan Ceramic Society

2013  A Distant View: The Porcelain Sculpture of Sueharu Fukami, Garden Pavilion,

            Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

 

Public Collections Include

Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Seto

Ariana Museum, Geneva, Switzerland

Art Institute of Chicago

British Museum, London

Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York

Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, Hanford, CA

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY

Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA

Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany

Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Japan Foundation, Tokyo

Kameoka City

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

Kyoto Prefectural Library and Archives

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

MOA Museum of Art, Atami

Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains, Lausanne, Switzerland

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres, France

Museo de Arte Moderno La Casa de Japón, San Isidro, Argentina

Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy

Museum of Art and History, Geneva, Switzerland

Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyōgo

Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade

Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shiga

Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

National Museum of Art, Osaka

National Museum of History, Taipei

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

New Orleans Museum of Art

Newcastle Regional Gallery, Cooks Hill, Australia

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

Okada Museum of Art, Hakone

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR

Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI

Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

Spencer Art Museum, Lawrence, KS

St. Louis Museum of Art

Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo

Tokoname City Education Bureau

Tokyo Opera City Gallery

Tsurui Museum of Art, Niigata

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT