An internationally renowned fashion designer turned ceramic artist, Takaaki Sakaguchi is holding his first solo exhibition at Form Gallery in tandem with fellow ceramicist Andrew Carran August. Emigrating from Osaka, Japan in 1996 to live in Auckland, he moved to Ōtautahi since 1998. It is a city that he maintains he appreciates because, like Osaka, it shares a noticeable shift in its weather over the four seasons of each year.
Sakaguchi was head-designer of Ayako Koshino fashion house in Osaka, later establishing his own business, Sakaguchi in Aotearoa with outlets throughout the country, and in Australia and Japan. He created a significant presence in the fashion world in Australasia, involved regularly in New Zealand Fashion Week and for the past decade with his fashion design store, Sakaguchi Couture in Merivale. In 2017 he became a member of the Canterbury Potters Association and ceramics have become a passion that he describes as rivalling his previous fashion interests.
Why the shift and change in arts practices? Sakaguchi says that his success as a fashion designer in Aotearoa happened quickly. In 2003 he started showing his clothing with Ng Design and Barbara Lee. ‘Suddenly I had people wanting to stock my work. People were picking up on my label. Every designer is hoping to do that but I was really lucky with my work. It was in the best shops in Sydney and in Melbourne as well. But working in fashion and retailing, I started to have so much pressure on me. Shops expecting a new look every time. There is a limit to fashion design. I want to be more ‘Avant-garde’, than the fashion industry could accommodate. ‘I like black clothes – (black is Avant-garde) and fashion is a very hard business. You can’t create anything that you would like to. The shops have to sell and a label needs to be popular. I was in that group, but I was trying to make my look by fitting it into to my clients needs, buying my clothes. I wanted more freedom, where you can do anything that you want to do and at the end of the day the shop or boutique has control over your work’.
Exhibiting his ceramics from 2017, Sakaguchi’s recognition as sculptor and object artist has been almost as immediate as his success as a fashion designer: The recipient of the Avice Hill Memorial Prize at the Canterbury Potters’ Association 44th Annual Exhibition in November 2017, his work acquired for the Canterbury Museum’s collection in 2018, a finalist in the Waiclay Ceramics Award 2019 at the Waikato Museum, and a featured artist at The Arts Centre: Sculpture festival Exhibition in 2020.
Sakaguchi’s described his ceramic objects and sculptures as the presence of an idea. The works in his exhibition, Revisions at Form Gallery acknowledge a history of Western art and modernism and traditional Japanese painting. Acknowledging that as an artist his work is about the essence of his subjects, Revisions includes, Ned Kelly a minimalist geometric ceramic object that respond s to the symbolism of Australian painter Sydney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Series (1946 – 1947). Sakaguchi’s Ned Kelly reduces all to the content of the outlaw’s masked armour, enriched by his attention to the potential of his manipulated clay surfaces. As he states: ‘You can tell my finger print is there’.
There are other works that further consider the essence of their subjects, in New Zealand artists’ paintings, including Colin McCahon’s Tomorrow will be the same, but not as this is, 1958 – 1959, and W. A. Sutton’s Plantation Series, 1988. And there is Kyureki, a series of twelve geometric abstract ceramics on Form Gallery’s walls, representing the months of the year. Sakaguchi has given each a name for each month.
Revisions – Andrew Carran and Takaaki Sakaguchi
Form Gallery, 468 Colombo Street, Sydenham
Opening: Saturday 7 August, 2pm - 5pm, 7 to 28 August
- Takaaki Sakaguchi, from left: Genbu, Koya series(in Japanese meansBarn) and Ned Kelly, 2021, ceramic