En Iwamura

Pop ceramic curves in playful forms

En Iwamura (he/him) was born in 1988 in Kyoto, Japan, where he continues to live and work.

Early Years

When Iwamura was three years old, his artist father gave him stacks of paper and a pen. “Whatever you sketch,” he said, “we’ll put it on the wall.” So Iwamura drew around 30 or 40 pieces. It was his first solo exhibition – not bad for a child of three.

Education

Iwamura earned his first MFA at the Japanese Kanazawa College of Art and Crafts in 2013. He then relocated to the United States where he gained his second MFA in arts and ceramics from Clemson University.

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Collaborations with En Iwamura

Avant Arte and En Iwamura have one upcoming collaboration.

Practice overview

En Iwamura makes pop ceramic characters with cartoonish humour and calm spirit. The Japanese philosophy of Ma is a key inspiration. This is a concept where relationships between objects, spaces and people are created – invoking tangible energy and feelings. As an example, Iwamura etches repeated lines into his clay figures. These recall the raked patterns found in Zen Buddhist gardens to evoke Ma. Like US contemporary Arlene Shechet, Iwamura experiments with ceramic patinas, shapes and scales. He hand-mixes glazes to provide unexpected modern colours and textures. By contrast, his watercolour paintings are reminiscent of 1960s artist Ken Price. With him, he shares a love of precise, fluid forms and acid colours. Other inspiring artists include contemporaries Katharina Fritsch and Ugo Rondinone.

Iwamura sees ceramics as an international cultural language. This is reflected in the wide range of influences and methods he draws from. Coil building, for example, is a key technique in his practice. This existed in prehistoric Japanese Jomon pottery and parallel early cultures. It’s also seen in the creation of African masks, Aztec ceramics and Chinese bronzes. Influence from Japan is also important. In particular, manga, anime and ancient Haniwa – small wooden funerary figures. While Iwamura is fluent in Japanese traditional craft, he’s also happy to break the rules. Mixing history and pop culture, he reimagines ceramics with playfulness, skill and style.

“I would like to act as the bridge between different countries, cultures and people.”En Iwamura