I believe certain objects can bring special meaning into our lives. I am particularly fond of objects that are thoughtfully designed and made by people, as they offer an experience of customs, rituals, places, inventions and ideas. In my life, the search for, and the presentation of, beautiful objects has inspired me to travel the world to learn more about their origins and their makers. These kinds of creations have both introduced me to new and distant peoples as well as so many places that have even deepened my understanding of familiar cultures. They have truly been instrumental in expanding my mind, heart and creativity. After all, we are all physical beings, and there is much comfort and enrichment in living with such unique artifacts.
I will never forget one particular trip to Fukuoka, Japan, when I met Makoto Kagoshima and asked him to exhibit his work for the first time in America at my store, Chariots on Fire, in Venice, California. My fascination with Makoto started with the discovery of an unforgettable piece—a simple arrangement of flowers drawn on a simple ceramic plate. It evoked so much excitement inside me; it felt familiar but at the same time mysterious. I could not quite put my finger on its origin, but the sense of joy and happiness it brought me at that particular time in my life was quite extraordinary, and I wanted to share that feeling with others immediately.
Perhaps Makoto’s charming plant motifs excited the amateur gardener in me, as I love to grow roses, or perhaps they reminded me of my father’s vast collection of plant specimens, carefully preserved in apothecary jars. But they evoked so much thought: “When was this object made? Is it new? Is it old? Where was it made? How? What kind of person creates such a wide range of objects?” Questions like these spark my curiosity and often lead to the hunt. In Makoto’s case, to my surprise, this beautiful object brought me back to Japan, my place of birth. I was thrilled because, growing up in the States, I always wished to find and work with a Japanese maker whose work I loved and could introduce outside of Japan.
What is so wonderful about Makoto’s ceramics is that they are a product of his vivid and very wild imagination. He has created a visual language that is uniquely his own. Just examine the breadth of his one-of-a-kind ceramics and you may come to deeply admire the details, individually imagined and marked with his own hands, the intricate etchings and vibrant play of colors with natural pigments. Makoto often works at night in his quiet home studio, tucked away from the organized chaos of the city noise but not too far, somewhere on a hilltop in the southern island of Japan he calls home. He is an avid gardener and draws inspiration from Roman sculpture and architecture.
To me, Makoto’s ceramics are like delightful poetry. They are the product of a very adventurous “Japanese business man” (as Makoto describes himself) who one day decided to walk down a different path with a new set of tools and a new set of dreams—a decision I greatly admire.