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Shinichi Sawada

Shinichi Sawada

Born in 1982, Sawada started attending Shiga Prefecture (a local social welfare facility for persons with intellectual disabilities) three or four times a week from around the year 2000. At this time he also started creating his ceramic art works at a kiln-equipped pottery workshop up in the mountains. This was only feasible during the spring and summer months due to severe winter weather conditions affecting the ceramics. 

Full Biography

Born in 1982, Sawada started attending Shiga Prefecture (a local social welfare facility for persons with intellectual disabilities) three or four times a week from around the year 2000. At this time he also started creating his ceramic art works at a kiln-equipped pottery workshop up in the mountains. This was only feasible during the spring and summer months due to severe winter weather conditions affecting the ceramics.

Sawada is a prolific artist taking around four days to complete each ceramic piece. When Sawada works, he demonstrates such confidence and assuredness that it seems he has already envisioned how his final pieces will look. With his delicate fingers, he applies each ‘thorn’ onto the main body of the piece without showing any kind of hesitation and always works in silence. These ‘thorns’ have evolved over time, becoming denser and more rounded. Sawada often has them laid out in straight orderly lines across the pieces too.

Being autistic with little communication means that his works and their ‘thorns’ remain a mystery to us. There are however around fifteen different motifs that he looks to replicate each time but, saying this, each finished product is totally unique.

Sawada’s work is now in the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne and featured in the Venice Biennale in 2013.

(Text written with help from Mizue Kobayashi)

Exhibition Highlights

2018 Clay Today, Hole NYC, New York
2018 Outsider Art Fair New York, Metropolitan Pavilion
2017 Art Brut in Thailand and Japan, Chulalongkorn University Museum, Bangkok
2014 Intuitive Folk, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
2013 Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan, Wellcome Collection, London
2013 55th International Art Exhibition at Venice Biennale, Italy
2012 Outsider Art from Japan, Het Dolhuys National Museum of Psychiatry, the Netherlands
2010 Art Brut Japonais, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris
2008 Japon, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne