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Okano Ricca is a ceramic artist based in Japan.

Drawing inspiration from the woodland in the mountainous Karuizawa area, where she lives, Okano explores the interaction between her mind-scape and the natural elements. Her recent works are functional and decorative ceramic objects that feature a striking balance between abstract expression and physical practicality.

Each finished piece is highly original, with both painterly and sculptural quality, and full of sensory energy. The results often evoke viewer's original senses and connect strongly with their feelings, which makes her works much sought after internationally.

The techniques Okano uses vary from throwing and hand-building, to carving and slab-building, and she often mixes them. The surface finish is layered and densely textured with white slip, multiple glazing, brush strokes and sgraffito mark-marking. Some pieces embody reflective imagery of water, while others have matte finishes and a tactile quality. The glazing process often creates drip blobs, pools and unexpected runs, which is a part of her spontaneity.

Okano's works include ceramic and video installations where a dual image of the physical and the spiritual world is visualized.

Having explored abstract painting intermittently, Okano taught herself ceramic art while traveling. Later she finished a ceramic course in Tajimi, one of Japan's historic ceramic bases. Originally from Tokyo, Okano moved to Karuizawa, where she creates her works and curates a gallery space with her partner and fellow artist Nomoto Hiroshi.

Okano has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions in Tokyo, Taipei and Sydney; group exhibitions in Madrid, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and she was an artist in residence at Hakone Sengokuhara (Japan). She was given Taro Award from Okamoto Taro Museum of Art.

Portrait photo: Mina Tabuchi

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