Skulls are perhaps the most instantly engaging subject in art and fashion. I very much doubt that the recent Skull Cup could have been carried out with any other motif in the jewelry world and likewise if you want to garner attention instantly in art, then there are few better ways to do it that by exploring the possibilities of the human skull.
Katsuyo Aoki is a magnificently talented artist trained in Tokyo who currently works almost exclusively in ceramics which has lent her study into skulls a suitably ghostly sheen and thematically sits comfortably with a subject that posits the fragility of life.
In a simular was as Damien Hurst made his iconic bejeweled skull vulgar through sheer wealth, so too does Katsuyo Aoki. She crams beauty and flourish after flourish into the space available leaving the skull exhaustedly detailed, at equal turns stunningly beautiful and vulgar by excess.
Aside from the thematic depth here, there is such a wealth of details in these skulls. I love how the depth of the eyes is created amongst the rippling porcelain and finished with a hint of grotesque organic detail deep in the sockets.
The mix between classic decorative techniques and creepy organic structures makes her work truly engaging as it is indubitably beautiful, but at the same time filled with uncomfortable allusions to testicles, crustaceans and bones.
Needless to say her work is enormously popular within the Japanese art scene and has led her to a number of exhibitions where she has been able to enjoy adding awe-inspiring scale to her already divine details (more on that later).
One thing that struck me about the work is how it looks completely different depending on how the porcelain is lit. For me the soft glow of the ceramics is infinitely more striking when illuminated in isolation:
And from an exhibition:
And while we are on the subject of exhibitions I thought I would finish up with a range of past work 2000-2011:
The ceramic tiles are hand-painted and then presented in an excruciatingly detailing frame – simply spellbinding.
The escaping blue from the vast piece on the right (Torolldam) was painted on for the installation exaggerating the conflict between conventional beauty and the sinister that runs deep through the work.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to this exciting artist and if you yearn to see more in cold reality then you will have to watch her news page on her homepage to see where she will be next.