The Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design or SOFA gallery is presented by the Masterworks of Contemporary and Modern Art and Design. SOFA Chicago will be celebrating 20 years in October. The Chicago art exhibition will run from October 31 until November 3, 2013 out on Navy Pier. The organization always attracts a good crowd, and features a variety of very different types of art and design.

Those who would like to pay the exhibition a visit should note that photography is not permitted. Those with cameras will have to check them in at the coat check stand. While this might seem draconian, it’s necessary to protect the integrity of the show.

Those who take an interest in yakimono work won’t want to miss works by Jun Kaneko featured in connection with the Duane Reed Gallery. The Missouri-based gallery always features great examples of contemporary painting, glasswork and ceramics.

Ceramic dango piece with cream and red motif

Jun Kaneko’s Ceramic Work Looks Imposing yet Modern, Photo Credit: Duane Reed Gallery

Jun Kaneko is a yakimono artist who is originally from Nagoya, but moved to the United States in 1963. He currently resides in Omaha. His pieces being shown off at the gallery are delightfully avant-garde.

Dango refers to Japanese dumplings made from mochiko rice flour. They’re related to mochi and often served on a skewer. Jun Kaneko is well known for his signature oblong shapes, which are often referred to as dango. To his credit they certainly do call to mind a dumpling.

Most of his pieces don’t have individual names. Nevertheless, their striking minimalism certainly turns heads. One piece from the Duane Reed Gallery being shown off at the SOFA Chicago show almost looks to have more in common with Bauhaus industrial design than traditional Japanese pastries. The piece was made in 2013, and features a four color pallet that almost looks as though it were inspired by art deco pieces.

Dango by Jun Kaneko with dripped glazing pattern

Some Dango Pieces can be Remarkably Large and Even Monolithic; Photo Credit: Duane Reed Gallery

One might imagine that it was taken straight out of the era of streamliners and modern art. Another piece of his looks far different. Rather than taking on a Bauhuas look it eschews that design and instead almost looks like it could have been related to a pop art movement in later history. That dango is also untitled and was made in 2009.

It features a base glazing of black along with rectangles of different colors strewn about the oblong body. White glazing lies between the two layers, and almost appears like it was splattered on it. What might surprise art collectors the most, however, is the sheer size of these pieces. The first dango is 47 inches tall while the second is a whopping 82. Most of Jun Kaneko’s work is actually quite large. While he has certainly made some pieces that work in an intimate setting, most of his dango are imposing.