Vertiginous, geometric, and sculptural are words ascribed to Kitamura Junko’s style. Trained under the important Sodeisha pioneer Suzuki Osamu, Kitamura’s sense for abstract, sculptural form shines through in her functional vessels. She also studied under the Living National Treasure, Kondō Yutaka (1932-83), whose sense for surface pattern is palpable in her work. Her intricate patterns are inspired by Korean Buncheong pottery, which reached its zenith in popularity during the Joseon dynasty. Her work, like Buncheong pottery, features concentric, dotted, impressed surface design inlaid with a viscous white slip. At the same time, her work reminds me of the extensive history of decorative arts in Japan, taking after textile patterns in the intricacy of the linear designs made in a scrolling pattern across the surface of her monochromatic clay. As a woman in the male-dominated ceramic industry in Japan, I admire and appreciate that Kitamura progresses the field forward.
Her work is now in the permanent collections of the British Museum, Brooklyn Museum, New York, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian.