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Jun Kaneko
Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross


Continuing through December 29, 2012

Viewers of Jun Kaneko’s glazed ceramic dangos (Japanese for “dumplings”) are meant to be amazed by their leviathan proportions, shiny smooth surfaces and exuberant use of polka dots, stripes and other shapes. But the experience of seeing them because of their scale has mostly been restricted to museums and airports. Now, however, thanks to the Bentley’s new home base - a 24,000-square-foot red-brick historic warehouse in the burgeoning Phoenix arts district, the opportunities to show large-scale works like Kaneko’s abound. The current show surveying the Japanese-born artist’s work from the last decade gives plenty of breathing space to a piece like “Dango 12-08-01,” weighing in at 88 inches high.


Also getting their proper presentation are Kaneko’s monumental ceramic heads, such as the Buddha-like “Head 03-08-01,” at 100 inches high. Furthermore, the high ceilings work well for the artist’s glazed ceramic wall pieces, an example being “Spring Light,” which is 147 inches high. With such a broad range, the show heightens understanding of Kaneko as a master of controlled imperfections. The black polka dots on the dangos often appear to have been gently washed and worn by rain, for instance, instead of being perfectly shaped. Or consider a ceramic head that offers the contrast of shiny black and matte gray stripes, yet yields several hints of rust-colored oxidation. And in his striped acrylic paintings, Kaneko shows that the endpoint of a brushstroke needn’t be neatly squared off.

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