The quality of Takashi Matsuo’s pieces is reminiscent of his origins in the Japanese province of Nara. An inland town in Japan where his admiration for the sea, the shape, the color, and the textures within it would begin to grow. His current workshop in Valencia is full of fish dressed in dancing tones. It is not surprising, therefore, that under that familiar setting, he creates unique pieces of a Mediterranean character.
He is passionate about the freedom of styles and he has found in this discipline the best way to carry it out. His work, which brings together earthenware, stoneware, enamels, porcelain, and other elements and shapes, was recognized in 2019 with the Caixa Rural Prize, awarded by the International Ceramics Competition of l ’Alcora. Today he teaches master classes and continues to develop his work in search of new imaginative forms.
Your work is made up of small marine jewels. What motivated you to develop your trade on our coasts?
TM Valencia is my starting point, where I started my career in ceramics. I began a course by chance at the Manises School of Art and Ceramics, just to get a student visa with the aim of prolonging my stay in Spain. From that first class in the workshop, the sensation of touching clay changed something within me, and since then I have been immersed in the world of ceramics.
Valencia is an ideal city to work this job since it has a stable climate, lots of light and fantastic sea air. I have lived in Malaga and Barcelona, two other cities to which I feel close, but the environment and size of the city of Valencia made me choose it as my home. It is not a very big or small city, but there are many sources of inspiration, such as its museums or its works of architecture. Also, the garden of the old riverbed, the landscape of the sea … It is a perfect place!
The Mediterranean is also a very attractive area with sea and mountains. Fertile land with a different history, traditions, and cultures. Here we find a mixture of Roman, medieval, modern, and current architecture, in a cheerful and bright environment, where you can live a positive life. For me, the Mediterranean has it all.
“Having a handmade piece gives you a little happiness in everyday life”
Takashi Matsuo – Ceramist
How do you find the necessary inspiration to give each piece a unique result?
TM I am currently developing pieces related to the marine world, so I try to get inspiration directly from the coasts. Walking along the beach, trying to feel the touch of the sand and the swaying of the water, catching the shells, or listening to the sound of the waves. I often go to the Oceanographic to see the fish. I find them really beautiful and I find it a very interesting exercise to be able to see them live. The Mediterranean cuisine has also served as a source of inspiration. I have not only been able to enjoy its taste but also patiently learn to know the details of its anatomy, until discovering little by little the system of its movements.
The Kintsugi -or Kintsukuroi- is a centuries-old technique of Japanese origin that consists of repairing broken ceramic pieces. With this technique, works of art are created; all different, with their own individual history and beauty. What do we find of the traditional Japanese legacy in your work?
TM When I visit Japan I try to go to museums, galleries, and pottery workshops to see and learn Japanese techniques, although I really don’t know if you can find any of them in my pieces.
The Japanese focus a lot on the feel and weight of the pieces. We care about the feeling of fitting our hands very well into objects. Perhaps it is somewhat subjective, but I always try to take care of this aspect so that people can feel that sensation. On the other hand, the Japanese traditionally practice respect for other people and objects, it is a way of demonstrating the culture and society of our ancestors. Kintsugi is an ancient technique that we continue to maintain to honor objects, not only to give more value to artistic creation but to show respect, love, and affection for objects.
On the other hand, ceramics have a different history and development in each place. Nowadays, it is easy to have contact and influence from other creators, so it is important to remain humble, learning from the soul and passion of the greats, to continue developing the idea and technique, improving with each job.
It is important to work hard and with intention. Asking yourself for the best job may one day become something really special.
Takashi Matsuo – Ceramist
In Spain, I have also been able to meet teachers with an intense dedication to creation. I would like to feel that same passion someday.
Living near the Mediterranean has always been my dream. Its nature forms a different landscape that I am passionate about. Its gastronomy, festivals, and traditions always surprise.
There are many interesting differences between Spain and Japan, and being able to have another point of view is a great discovery. Drawing the necessary bridges to unite our cultures is my pending subject, but it is people who create the culture and values of the world, and people are always changing, so connecting is key to achieving that perfect mixture.