ANTIQUES AND THE ARTS WEEKLY
January 27, 2023
NEW YORK CITY — To mark The Winter Show’s triumphant return to the Park Avenue Armory, Joan B Mirviss LTD is presenting “10 x 10 Past and Present: Japanese Masters of Ceramics.” The range of technical skills, innovative approaches to clay, and the sheer depth of artistic talent exhibited in the work by Japanese ceramic masters, will be on full display. These featured artists demonstrate a mastery of the medium that confirm Japanese clay art’s position as the most varied and exciting anywhere in the world today. “10 x 10” is also a celebration of the gallery's longtime mission to bridge historic and contemporary Japanese fine art and place them in fascinating conversations — a mission it has successfully achieved at The Winter Show for more than 40 years and counting. For this next Winter Show exhibition at the armory in January, Joan B Mirviss LTD features not only the astonishing scope and quality of the best of the best of Japanese ceramics, but also highlights its surprising legacies from the past and into the Twenty-First Century.
The names of Twentieth Century masters instantly evoke some of the very best of not only Japanese ceramics but of the modern ceramics field: Hamada Shōji (1894-1978), well-known in the West for leading the Mingei (folk art) movement, is represented here alongside his longtime friend and Japan Folk Art Association co-founder, Kawai Kanjirō (1890-1966), who by contrast never traveled to the West and refused all titles. This pair alone, seemingly so alike in many ways, demonstrates the diversity within modern Japanese ceramics when their works are viewed side by side. Hamada Shōji was designated a Living National Treasure, a system developed in the postwar era that sought to preserve and ensure the continuity of Japanese craft traditions. Matsui Kōsei (1927-2003), an incomparable master of neriage (marbleized clay) technique, and Shimizu Uichi (1926-2003), acclaimed for his tetsu-yū (iron glaze) technique, are fellow featured Living National Treasures.
In addition to those artists looking to connect their practice with and revitalize the traditions of the past, the mid-Twentieth Century witnessed the emergence of clay artists who were actively challenging accepted norms. The Sōdeisha Movement, which broke wide open ideas about functionality in ceramics, was founded in Kyoto by Suzuki Osamu (1926-2001), Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979) and Yamada Hikaru (1923-2001), all of whose boldly defiant works are presented in this show. Other past masters highlighted here include Okabe Mineo (1919-1990), Kuriki Tatsusuke (1943-2013) and Koie Ryōji (1938-2020).
Current ceramic masters have demonstrated that their artistic originality can be built upon the Twentieth Century’s enormous legacy. Each living master is in dialogue with past masters, whether as former teachers, fathers and grandfathers or as venerated practitioners of a specific style or technique. The resulting work, however, points as much toward the future as it looks towards the past.
Kaneta Masanao (b 1953), an eighth generation Hagi potter, has expanded beyond the tradition of his ancestry to create a more sculptural oeuvre. Kawase Shinobu (b 1950), also from a multi-generational pottery family, stepped outside his patrimony to embrace celadon and has brought the classical tradition to its absolute pinnacle in the contemporary era. Current Living National Treasures on view include Suzuki Osamu (b 1934) for Shino ware, and Isezaki Jun (b 1936) for Bizen ware, both of whom have taken the ceramic traditions of their families into the Twenty-First Century. Many current masters have forged different paths that only became possible in the contemporary era. They have studied and lived abroad, such as Kondō Takahiro (b 1958) in Scotland, who completely transformed his family's sometsuke (blue and white porcelain) tradition, or Katsumata Chieko (b. 1950) in France, who is one of several women to formally study ceramics in newly created university programs. Some have elected after university training to operate outside of traditional ceramic centers, such as Sakiyama Takayuki (b 1958), who lives in a seaside village. Others have eschewed vessels and fully embraced sculpture, such as Fujino Sachiko (b 1950) and Sugiura Yasushi (b 1949) in their interpretations of botanical forms. And one of the younger artists, Fukumoto Fuku (b 1973), has created a highly personal artistic language that combines both vessels and sculptures in inventive ways.
“10 x 10 Past and Present Masters of Japanese Ceramics” will underscore these very connections and create conversations between modern and contemporary works.
Joan B Mirviss LTD will be located in booth E4 at The Winter Show 2023, which runs January 20-29 at the Park Avenue Armory at 643 Park Avenue.
For more information, 212-799-4021 or www.mirviss.com.