Japanese artist En Iwamura creates large ceramic sculptures of heads with minimalist facial features. Holes and slits reference eyes and mouths on the oddly-shaped forms, while uniform grooves traverse the clay surfaces in complex patterns. With site-responsive installations, the artist introduces viewers to the Japanese philosophy of Ma⁠—the relationship between viewers, objects, and negative space⁠—and gives them the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

Born in Kyoto to artist parents, Iwamura studied at Kanazawa College of Craft and Art where he earned MFA and BFA in Crafts/Ceramics. In 2013, he traveled to the United States to study at Clemson University and was later invited to give artist talks and lead workshops in New Hampshire and Montana. Through lectures, his artistic practice, and exhibitions with New York-based Ross + Kramer Gallery, Iwamura has explored ways of altering audience experiences while introducing them to the uniquely Japanese concept of Ma. “People constantly read and measure different Ma between themselves,” the artist said in a statement, “and finding the proper or comfortable Ma between people or places can provide a specific relationship at a given moment.”

Watch a video of Iwamura’s texturing technique here and follow the artist on Instagram to see more expressive characters in various stages of the creation process.



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