At Loewe’s Fall 2020 Presentation, Radical Pottery Hides in Plain Sight

Creative director Jonathan Anderson collaborated with the Japanese artist Takuro Kuwata, whose ceramics get their shape by exploding in the kiln.

A look from Loewe's fall 2020 collection. Photo: Estrop/Getty Images.

Among all of the fabric in Loewe’s fall 2020 collection, which is marked by ballooning sleeves, inventively ruched dresses, and shoulder-exposing ruffles, there are also outré ceramics. Loewe’s creative director, Jonathan Anderson, a devoted fan of craft, collaborated with the fast-rising Japanese ceramicist Takuro Kuwata to make gold-flecked breastplates that adorn some of the clothes. Seamlessly blending into the pieces, they suggest the surface of the moon and fist-sized, tentacle-covered spheres, and a few dangled from two-toned Flamenco bags as models walked through the Maison de l’Unesco in Paris on Friday.

Anderson and Kuwata have crossed paths before. The latter was a finalist for the 2018 Loewe Craft Prize, the Spanish house’s annual award for contemporary craft. The piece that the artist entered in that competition—a giant pistachio-green vessel clad in sagging silver slabs—epitomizes his radical pottery. He likes to leave his work to chance, and inserts needles or large stones into wet clay, causing it to explode into a new form inside the kiln. These droopy blobs might bring to mind psychedelic bliss, but they’re rooted in serious technical ability, using methods employed by Susumu Zaima, the master potter Kuwata with whom apprenticed in 2002, and Toyozo Arakawa, the ceramicist who pioneered crackled glaze.

The esoteric oddities are right up Anderson’s alley. “At Loewe, Jonathan designs a complete universe around the clothing … through design and craft, art, and music,” curator Andrew Bonacina told Surface a couple years back. Bonacina, who is chief curator of the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire, England, where he helped Anderson organize the 2017 exhibition “Disobedient Bodies,” added at the time, “He’s not just a designer. His approach is very much that of a curator: about bringing things together, resulting in rich conversation.”

Those looking to see more work from Kuwata, who is represented by Alison Jacques Gallery in London and Salon 94 in New York, can hope that the Hagi Uragami Museum in Hagi, Japan, where he has a solo exhibition titled “Dear Tea Bowl, Horsetails Are in Season in Hagi,” is able to reopen soon. It’s currently closed because of the coronavirus outbreak in Japan; the show runs through March 15.

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