Toshiya Masuda, artist from Japan. Photo © Courtesy of the artist

Tell us what you do and your beginnings.

The original experience of video games that I encountered as a child was a source of inspiration, and my desire to see CG – Computer Graphics in three dimensions led me to think about what materials would have the greatest impact when digital images are made three-dimensional.

It occurred to me that it would be more interesting to make the images in ceramic, which tends to be the complete opposite of digital. I thought: “Why not make it in ceramics?”. It started with the idea that it would be more interesting if it were made in ceramics.

What does your work aim to say?

As people age, they make decisions based on their own experiences and acquired knowledge. They control their emotions based on their previous knowledge and precedents, which often become common knowledge without their knowledge.

Recollection Playlist 2, 2023

© Toshiya Masuda

In this sense, when people hear the word ‘ceramics’, they imagine ‘vessels’, the texture and colour of clay and glaze, and a sense of reality that they can touch, but when they hear the word ‘CG’, many people imagine digital images on monitors such as video games that they cannot touch. The digital image of CG, which has neither texture nor a sense of reality, creates a gap with the image of ceramics, which has the exact opposite image of texture and reality.

The sense of wonder felt from this image gap is something that can only be created in the time in which I live, where the virtual world (imaginary image) and the real world (real image) intersect, and I believe that this work, which is unprecedented in the long history of ceramics, will provide an opportunity to think about contemporary reality.

Where do you find inspiration for your art?

I attach great importance to ‘words’ in my work. Sometimes they come from my everyday life, from my doubts, from my awareness of problems, and sometimes words I am interested in from books I am reading, lyrics of music I am listening to or any media trigger ideas for my artworks.

Memory Container 2, 2020

© Toshiya Masuda

Also, as I am a ceramic artist, my ideas about ceramics are also triggered by my ceramic studies. The words and other things I am interested in cover a lot of issues and very personal things about living in the country of Japan, but I think that is a feeling that many people living in the same generation in the same time period have, even though they live in different countries.

Could you give us some insight into your creative process?

Once the idea for the work has been decided, the actual size of the motif is measured and a cross-sectional paper pattern is made, similar to a CT scan – Computed Tomography. Using that paper pattern, the clay is cut out from the clay stretched into a board shape and the clay is laminated. The laminated clay is cut into small pieces, shaved and moulded, then dried and unglazed.

The unglazed pieces are then coloured with ceramic underglaze paint and fired to completion. No digital equipment is used for all actions in production, including drawings, stencils and moulding. All work is done by hand.

What are your future projects?

Ceramic expression is an artistic expression that exists in many countries around the world, but at the same time, there is a ceramic culture that is unique to the country of Japan. I work with the awareness that I am an ongoing presence in the long history of ceramic art in this country.

All Star, 2019

© Toshiya Masuda

By being more aware of ceramics than ever before, my work has come to have the inevitability of being ceramic, and at the same time I want to create work that has a feeling that goes beyond the traditional image of ceramics.

I would like to increase the number of venues for presentations, both in Japan and abroad, and do my best to make my work available to as many people as possible.

Interview by Fabio Pariante: X • Instagram • Website


Toshiya Masuda: Instagram