Satoru Hoshino: Surface Strata and Depth 1978-80, 2016

2016. 10.15 [sat] – 11.12 [sat] 11:00 -19:00 (Saturdays 11:00 -17:00) Closed on Sundays, Mondays, national holidays

Only a small part of the world can be seen, and the larger part hidden from view behind that is what supports the world. I spread a thin coat of clay onto pieces of torn newspaper, and when the newspaper is removed, thin layers of clay appear. When I layer them several times onto a trapezoid shape cut out of the ground, eventually I arrive at structures of “surface strata and depth”. Though each of the thin, wavelike strata extends horizontally over the surface, they lead the sight-lines of the viewer in a vertical direction, toward deeper levels that cannot be seen. And the light-absorbing effect of the kokuto black ceramic also beckons the viewer’s sight-lines deep within. –– Satoru Hoshino*

ARTCOURT Gallery will hold an exhibition of the work of the contemporary ceramic artist Satoru Hoshino, with a focus on his Surface Strata and Depth series. Featuring five new works together with five works produced between 1978 and 1980, this exhibition will approach the creative spirit of Satoru Hoshino, who continues to explore and extend the possibilities of ceramic art.

Hoshino began producing Surface Strata and Depth in 1978 using the kokuto (black ware) method. An important early work, Hoshino refers to it as his starting point as an artist. Drawing inspiration from the natural surroundings of his studio in Koya, in the town of Wazuka (in Sagara, Kyoto Prefecture), with the view of the mountains and the flow of the nearby Kizu River, Hoshino has reinterpreted clay as a substance of piled-up, stratified things, and he has undertaken an expression that awakens invisible interiors out of surface layers that exist as phenomena. The works of this series have a dualistic construction, which consists of wavelike surface layers generated from clay and torn-up paper, and their interiors. With the color and texture of the kokuto ceramic, these works convey visual-psychological actualizations of deep layers that cannot be seen. And their shapes were also manifestations of Hoshino’s deep contemplations, in his attempts to grasp the reality of the structure of the world from such oppositions as surface and depth strata, inner and outer worlds, and the order and chaos that would form the background of his following series. With its elevating of diverse internal qualities into a personal expression, the Surface Strata and Depth series has been praised for its groundbreaking qualities that expand the scope of avant-garde ceramic art, and has received numerous awards, including the Minister of Education Prize at the 5th Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition (1979). Works from the series are held in many of the collections of Japan’s major art museums. For Hoshino himself, these fluid and shifting shapes that manifested as wave patterns were to become important, persistent motifs running through the evolution of his later work.

Hoshino continued the Surface Strata and Depth series until 1982, when he was beset with the feeling that something was lacking in the static objects of his work. At that point, he entered a new stage in his development, and began shifting toward producing pieces of fired, clay-coated stainless steel, as well as his installation works. Then, in 1986, disaster struck when a torrential rainstorm caused the hill behind his studio to collapse and turn into a landslide, and his studio and many of the works inside it were washed away. Subsequently, while fleshing out in reality his formation concept of an “appeared figure” that emerges out of a direct dialogue between the clay and his body, Hoshino has continued to pose questions to the world with regard to the relationship between nature and humanity, and to seek out his “way of showing” it. In this exhibition, Satoru Hoshino will once again take up the challenge of his Surface Strata and Depth series, which spans a period of thirty-five years. “I would like to continue to indicate, within the process of creation, the orientation of living in harmony with the clay.” Perhaps this will be an opportunity for Hoshino to manifest some contemplation once again, from within the quietness of the kokuto ceramic. With the long history of clay and humankind, of ceramic art and people as its backdrop, it may well be something that stimulates our creativity with the certitude of its depth and gives us the power to grasp anew the essence of our world.

(The artist’s words indicated above by * and “” first appeared in the exhibition catalog “Satoru Hoshino: Appeared Figures in Black Ware” (The Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, 2002)

Related events

  • Saturday, October 29, 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    ◆Artist talk
    Satoru Hoshino and Koichi Mori (Art critic / Executive director, Japan Ceramics Society)
  • Saturday, October 29, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

  • *RSVP required for Artist Talk. Please email to or call 06-6354-5444.


Satoru Hoshino