Born in Montreuil, France, in 1987, King Houndekpinkou is a Franco-Beninese ceramicist who works and lives in Paris.
In 2012, King’s fascination for Japan takes a new turn as he discovers the works of the six ancient pottery kilns of Japan, which include Shigaraki, Bizen and Tamba. That year, he starts learning ceramics in Paris and travels to Bizen, Japan, each year to acquire further experience besides fellow potters from the Keramos group. There, King was amazed by their ceremonial approach to blending earth, water, air and fire to create ceramics with a natural and crude aesthetics. For him, their practice was reminiscent of Benin’s animist traditions of Voodoo as both “sciences” search for a fused relationship between man and nature in order to guide our existence.
In 2016, guided by his intuition, King carried out BB Project (Benin-Bizen Project), consisting in blending techniques and local materials from Bizen, Japan, and the pottery village of Sè, near his father’s native lands in Southwest Benin. The adventure resulted in hybrid works that shed a new light on cross-cultural dialogue while placing clay work as a mean of universal plastic expression. This significant chapter of King’s life led him to develop Terres Jumelles, a cultural program that consists in twining all the pottery regions/towns of Benin and Japan.
Today, King blends clays and other materials from all continents to create experimental works that combine craftsmanship, cross-cultural understanding and spirituality. He cultivates an attraction for the “beauty of imperfection” and purposely scratches, tears and repairs clay bodies often disfigured by texture overload. Once fired, glazes reveal cracks, grains and flux that often emulate the aesthetics of the Voodoo altars from Benin.
His work has been exhibited internationally at biennials, art fairs, group and solo shows including Dak’Art OFF 2016 (Dakar, Senegal), World Cultures Festival (Hong Kong), Art Paris Art Fair (Paris, France), The Salon: Art + Design (New York, USA), Time on Earth (New York, USA), Terre de Mémoire (Cotonou, Benin) and Thank you for the Clay (Shigaraki, Japan). In 2017, King was part of the major tribute exhibition to American art potter George Ohr [1857-1918] Regarding George Ohr: Contemporary Ceramics in the Spirit of the Mad Potter at Boca Raton Museum of Art (Florida, U.S), curated by ceramics expert Garth Clark.
Photo credits: © 2017 Alex HUANFA CHENG