Jun Kaneko is one of those artists who has developed a strong artistic identity that shows through regardless of the medium that he is working in. Recently, San Francisco was lucky enough to have Kaneko's work displayed in three very different venues, each highlighting a different aspect of this artist's identity. Kaneko displayed a large head sculpture at the Art in Nature show outside of the California Shakespeare Theater, showing his talent for large scale sculpture. He also had a show more intimate in nature at the Rena Bransten Gallery where he displayed smaller, more human-scaled sculptures along with some paintings and drawings. Finally, Kaneko created the sets, costumes and props for the San Francisco Opera's presentation of Mozart's Magic Flute. All of these works contained the strong, bold forms and colors that are essential to Kanko's artistic identity.
I was fortunate enough to discover Kaneko's work early on in my ceramics career and have been following his work for nearly a decade. The thing that stands out most about his work is his affinity for working large, with some of his sculptures reaching well over ten feet tall once glazed fired. As I followed him I have seen him tackle many different art forms, from ceramics, to glass, to set design, but all of his work has an essential "Kaneko-ness" to it with his bold use of line, form and color. From personal experience I know that Kaneko's large sculptures invite the viewer to engage in the artist's identity by inviting them to walk around the sculptures and take in their incredible scale while his smaller (2+ feet high) sculptures invite the viewer to take in the smaller details of the sculptures: the brush strokes on the glaze, the texture of the clay, creating an intimate interaction with the artist. How wonderful must The Magic Flute production have been with Kaneko's set paintings and costumes creating an ever changing tableau across the stage.