Akio Kontani only started creating art in July 2015. He was working in an automobile factory until he began to suffer from mental illnessl. He found a leaflet for a local social welfare facility in Southern Japan, and wanted to start visiting the ceramics studio there, as he had an interest in working with clay. Since then he has been visiting the studio, a hut in the mountains, two or three times a week, alongside the self-taught artist Shinichi Sawada, spending up to five hours there each time.
His works are representations of animals and demons from the realms of his imagination. He also likes books with pictures of anime and manga in them, and these influence his designs. He will almost always start forming his creation from the mouth. His pieces are bold in their form and energy, forming quite recognizable creatures. Unlike Sawada, Kontani is quite chatty and the two artists often seem to influence each other’s works. The staff who run the studio believe that they are consciously making work alongside one another, looking at the style the other is using.
Kontani’s work was shown for the first time outside of Japan in 2018 in Art Brut Japonais II at Halle Saint Pierre, Paris.