Art by Sonja Kanno

Sonja Kanno is a German painter and ceramic artist, living and working in Japan. Kanno’s art is deeply influenced by the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which is rooted in Zen Buddhism. Wabi-sabi sees beauty in the humble and simple (wabi), in imperfections, spontaneous irregularities, the rustic and weathered (sabi), and in the impermanent nature of life: the fleeting moment, the changes in nature through the seasons, the natural cycle of growth and decay.

Text: Edited by Mitzi Paap, BA



Sonja Kanno was born 1982 in Germany.
Since 2011, she has been living in Tokyo, Japan.

Kanno is fascinated by the transitory character of impermanent environments, which she captures in her abstract paintings and - most recently - in ceramic objects. She has previously collaborated with artists in different media, such as performance, installation and interactive art. Kanno holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from Hanze University Groningen, The Netherlands, where she graduated cum laude. Her artwork has been exhibited at galleries, art fairs and in public spaces.

Artist Statement

“With an exploratory curiosity, I investigate the nature of impermanent environments.

“The medium of painting – the infinite ways layers and transparencies can be used – is the perfect means for me to convey and capture a state of transitoriness. By alternating translucent glazes with opaque layers of paint, I construct an interplay of elusive surfaces.

“The painting process itself mirrors my experience of the nature of impermanence. It is an elementary process that arises from a state of present observations, experiences and feelings. Layer upon layer, the painting is transforming into an abstract composition, which can be seen as an expression of the transitory nature of the present moment - an inner landscape of fleeting thoughts, feelings and memories.”

“My ceramic objects, sculpted from malleable clay and fired into static permanence, are still able to convey the sense of transitoriness through the colors and texture of their surface. Daily objects such as tea bowls and vases express the sense of permanence, while the colors and texture of the ceramic surface reflect impressions of the changing natural environment and of the changing nature of self.”