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Jun Kaneko

  • Bronze, paint, steel base
  • 2017
  • Over 2.1 m tall
  • 56 Blue Jays Way, Bisha Hotel and Residences, Toronto

About the artwork

With over 30 public art commissions around the world including New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo, Jun Kaneko is best known for creating large-scale ceramic sculptures and installations. Jun is increasingly drawn to installations that promote civic interaction. The Untitled Heads at The Bisha Hotel in Toronto boast over 7 feet tall and are created out of bronze, resting on stainless steel bases. The heads are designed to elevate the person in amongst the towering brick, glass, and steel structures of the city. Kaneko has said of his works “I hope… that [they] will give off enough visual energy to shake the air around [them].”

About the artist

Jun Kaneko was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1942. He studied painting with Satoshi Ogawa during his adolescence. He came to the United States in 1963 to continue his studies at Chouinard Institute of Art when his introduction to Fred Marer drew him to sculptural ceramics. He proceeded to study with Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman in California during the time now defined as The Contemporary Ceramics Movement in America. The following decade, Kaneko taught at some of the nation’s leading art schools, including Scripps College, Rhode Island School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art. Based in Omaha since 1986, Jun Kaneko has worked at several experimental studios including European Ceramic Work Center in The Netherlands, Otsuka Omi Ceramic Company in Japan, Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia PA, Bullseye Glass in Portland OR, Acadia Summer Arts Program in Bar Harbor ME, and Aguacate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Over the course of his career he has partnered with industrial facilities to realize large-scale, hand-built sculptures. The first was his 1982-1983 Omaha Project at Omaha Brickworks. Later sculptures include his Fremont Project, completed in 1992-1994, and most recently his Pittsburg Project completed in 2004-2007. Most recently, Jun has been working at the Cuernavaca Raku ceramics studio, experimenting with new glazes and the unpredictability of raku.

Fun facts

  • In May 2018 the six foot-tall head statute by Kaneko disappeared from the Gardiner Museum's entrance. Truth is, it did not entirely disappeared but only moved to create a new accessibility ramp and extending the garden of the museum.
  • The artist and his wife Ree founded in 1998, KANEKO, a non-profit cultural organization that hosts unique educational programs and exhibitions in turn-of-the-century warehouses in Omaha.

Engagement questions

  • How does this work engage with its audience? How do you want to engage with it?