King Houndekpinkou: The Space Age meets the traditions of ceramic art | Wallpaper*

2021-11-26 09:40:47 By : Ms. Sheila Xi

The otherworldly ceramic art of Parisian artist King Houndekpinkou combines the ancestral ceramic traditions with space-age video games. As featured in the September 2021 wallpaper*, it can be downloaded for free on newsstands

Currently, King Houndekpinkou is creating some of 40 ceramic works for his next solo exhibition "Dans Mon Jardin..." at the Galerie Vallois Gallery in Paris. On the left and in the center are the unfired works, dried by the window, while on the far right is the finished platinum sculpture

Benin in West Africa and Japan in the Far East. Ancestral pottery and space age video games. King Houndekpinkou, an emerging ceramic artist based in Paris, combined these seemingly different influences to create sculptures featuring bold colors, playful spikes and cracked surfaces. They do not depend on any style or genre, but reflect his background and views: a life defined by happy accidents. 

Houndekpinkou, 34, is a native of Benin. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Paris. As a child obsessed with video games, he has a keen interest in Japanese pop culture. "My favorite is Zelda because of its colors and dynamic graphics. I also like the solution-seeking side of games. For me, Nintendo also means spending time with my cousin, who is mine. Playmate," the ceramist recalled. Today, his creative world still lives on this childhood passion: he likes dynamic forms, jaw-dropping colors and interpersonal relationships. 

Houndekpinkou went to Japan for the first time when he was 22 years old. There he stumbled upon traditional ceramics, which aroused his curiosity. After returning to Paris, he studied under Kayoko Hayasaki, a Japanese pottery teacher. While accompanying Hayesaki on a project with a Japanese potter in central France, he met Toshiaki Shibuta, a master potter, who he now calls his spiritual father. "I was attracted by the animistic rituals they practiced. They prayed to the "kiln gods", drank sake, piled salt, and sprinkled flowers to avoid evil, so that their ceramics could be fired smoothly," the artist explained. "Our country is 13,000 kilometers apart, but how similar! Shintoism and African Voodoo have a close connection with nature. Our ritual is about humility.

"Our country is 13,000 kilometers apart, but how similar are Shintoism and Voodoo"

After the epiphany, Houndekpinkou went to Japan for the second time, this time to Bizen, which is one of the oldest kilns in Japan. Since then, ceramics has become a medium for questioning his identity and roots; his 2016 Terres Jumelles (Double Earth) project used ceramics to promote cross-cultural dialogue between Benin and Japan. Every year, he travels to these two countries, brings back some soil from each place, and then mixes it into mixed clay.

'The nature of clay-whether it is soft or firm, or its mineral content-depends on its geographic origin. I identify each variety by color and texture. The artist experimented with different clay "cocktails" until he found a recipe that suits his purpose. 'If I want something strong, I would choose sandy clay, which can absorb thermal shock. Touching the soil with my fingers, I feel so calm, energetic and naughty," he said.

His sculptures range from huge vessels to more complex compositions. For example, he used an upturned bowl as the base and used clay to attach more bowls, cups and handles to it, creating an evolutionary form of pottery. "I assemble functional parts into sculptures." An influential folk art movement in Japanese culture is based on finding beauty in everyday and practical objects, and Houndekpinkou has instead elevated them to another dimension. 

One of the hallmarks of Houndekpinkou is the creative use of glaze. "My inspiration came from dripping liquid on a voodoo altar," he explained, showing dozens of cans of paint and a notebook full of his own recipes. 'It may require a combination of hundreds of powders to obtain a specific color or texture. Sometimes I will remake the finished work on the surface, apply a layer of glaze, and then fire it again. Then a new work was born! He thrives on the alchemy of technical prowess and creative experimentation. 'The more technical training you receive, the more creative you are. To become a technician, you need discipline and balance.

'My studio wall is some kind of self-portrait. If my brain were printed, it should look like this. Everything is logically interconnected, in a never-ending story"

Then he turned the topic to his other hobby: on his wheels. "When I ride a motorcycle, I like to feel the wind and speed. To make it work, I need to be mechanically precise. It's like pottery," he pointed to an old motorcycle fixed on the wall of his studio. The photo says. A red line connects this photo with another, a little further away on the same wall: a portrait of George Orr, a special American ceramic artist known as the "crazy potter."

As early as 2017, Houndekpinkou was one of the artists who paid tribute to Ohr in Florida. It turns out that this motorcycle once belonged to Ohr. More photos, notes and newspaper clippings filled the walls. Is it a mood board? "Not exactly," he said. 'This is a self-portrait. If my brain were printed, it should look like this. In a never-ending story, everything is logically related to each other. §

Watercolor sketches of some of the 40 ceramic sculptures created by the artist for the upcoming solo exhibition "Dans Mon Jardin..." at the Galerie Vallois Gallery in Paris. These artworks will be arranged to form a small garden

Le Triboutellis à Sève Noire, 2021. Glazed ceramics: a mixture of white and black stoneware from Iowa, USA-Tamba, Benin, Sè, Bizen, Japan. White glaze and black glaze. Photography: King Houndekpinkou

Le Tribekonia Doré, 2021, glazed and painted ceramics: a mix of white and black stoneware from Iowa, USA-Tamba, Benin-Bizen, Japan. Blue, pink, red glaze, matte orange and yellow pigments, gold. Photography: King Houndekpinkou

"Dans Mon Jardin..." by King Houndekpinkou will be held at the Valois Gallery in Paris from September 7th to October 2nd.

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