Born in 1970, Akio Kontani only started creating art in July 2015 when he was introduced to clay in a Japanese institution. He now works in a little open hut in the mountains alongside Shinichi Sawada.
Born in 1970, Akio Kontani only started creating art in July 2015. When he was a child he used to cut paper into shapes as he was seen to be dexterous. He worked in an automobile factory until be came mentally unwell. This is when he found a leaflet for a local social welfare facility in Southern Japan, and wanted to start visiting the ceramics studio there, as he had an interest in working with clay. Since then he has been visiting the studio, a hut in the mountains, two-three times a week, alongside Shinichi Sawada, spending up to five hours there each time.
His works are representations of animals and demons from the realms of his imagination. He also likes books with pictures of anime and manga in them, and these influence his designs. He will almost always start forming his creation from the mouth. His pieces are bold in their form and energy, forming quite recognisable creatures. Unlike Sawada, Kontani is quite chatty and the two artists often seem to influence each other’s works. The staff who run the studio believe that they are consciously making work alongside one another, looking at the style the other is using.
Kontani’s work was shown for the first time outside of Japan last year at ‘Art Brut Japonais II’ at Halle Saint Pierre, Paris.
2018 Art Brut Japonais II, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris