KITAŌJI ROSANJIN (1883-1959)
E-Seto type bamboo-shaped vase with bamboo-leaf patterning
Glazed stoneware with Totōan box
10 1/8 x 5 in.
Potter’s mark: Ro (incised at mid body)
Box title: E-seto fū ichijūgiri chikugata tsutsu; Cylindrical bamboo-shaped vase with painted patterning (on cover). Rosanjin sensei bannen no saku; Work from Rosanjin's later years (inside cover)
Box signature: Tōtōan shu; head of Tōtōan (inside cover)
Box seal: Ryō (for Kuroda Ryōji d. 1987) (inside cover)
Exhibited: Rosanjin ten. Nagoya Bijutsu Club, 1996.
Though Kitaōji Rosanjin (1883-1959) first came to ceramics as a gourmand, he was initially a talented calligrapher and seal carver, and the influence of the literati class that he encountered as a young man would inform his artistic approach throughout his life. Though he was largely self-taught, it was his early experiences as an antiques dealer and restaurant owner that formed his understanding of why, through history, certain vessels and dishes were made the way they were and equally how the glazes “should” look. His vast cultural knowledge extended to other art forms such as ikebana (flower arranging).
Cut bamboo stalks were long used to transport water or hold flower arrangements, and in the sixteenth century, they were cut from the top and side to create flower displays in tea ceremony settings. Rosanjin enlarged the traditional vase of cut bamboo to a substantial ceramic vessel covered in a subtle beige-ash glaze. Taking up the scattered bamboo leaves as a motif, Rosanjin energetically applied the decoration over the entire surface. His version unexpectedly combines the classical form and glaze (e-Seto), motif, and function of the vessel with calligraphic brushstrokes that to contemporary observers resemble abstract painting. The strongly incised potter's mark at mid-body unmistakably identifies this as the work of Rosanjin.