June 22, 2023
NEW YORK, NY.- Highly prized across Asia for centuries, celadon finds inventive new expression in recent ceramics by leading Japanese artists. This summer, the captivating qualities of celadon are showcased in a range of forms and styles by a dozen modern and contemporary Japanese ceramic artists from different backgrounds and traditions. Often synonymous with a very distinctive and pristine bluish-green color, “celadon” encompasses many different tonalities and textures that challenge our expectations. From exquisite vessels to daring sculptures, works in this exhibition play with celadon’s categorical boundaries and even reconsiders its very definition. Warm to the Touch: Cool and Refreshing Celadon will be on view in the gallery and online this summer from mid-June to early August at Joan B Mirviss LTD in New York.
Though seeming to achieve perfection during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), celadon is not limited to the classical forms and signature bluish-green color of the Jingdezhen kilns. In the hands of intrepid Japanese ceramic artists, the coolness that is characteristic of celadon suddenly becomes warm and pliable, and surprising new aspects are discovered and displayed in the works in this exhibition. Celadon can range from seihakuji (bluish-white) to deep olive green, and can appear either monochromatic or gradated, in reds or in blues. A fine example of an olive-green celadon stoneware vase by revered master ISHIGURO MUNEMARO (1893-1968) is a highlight of the exhibition.
Poured over a porcelain body, as compared to a stoneware body, varied translucence in the celadon glaze brings additional depth to seihakuji (bluish-white) celadon work featured in Warm to the Touch by celebrated artists. One such example is a lotus-form bowl by TSUKAMOTO KAIJI (1912-1990), who in his lifetime was designated a Living National Treasure. And an ancient craquelure technique of simulating “cracked ice,” arduously recovered by modern masters, is expertly realized in recent work by MINEGISHI SEIKŌ (1952- 2023) and ITŌ HIDEHITO (b. 1971). Exemplifying the pinnacle of celadon, or seiji, absolutely perfect pinched bowls by the current reigning master of celadon, KAWASE SHINOBU (b. 1950), are presented alongside his enticing work in brilliant colors of indigo, apple green- red, and “new leaf” green. His unrivaled mastery of color demonstrates celadon’s potential outside of the expected blue-greens and bluish-whites.
Other artists have taken celadon even further in form and glaze. YOSHIKAWA MASAMICHI (b. 1946) eschews the restrained, thinly-applied conventions of classical seihakuji (bluish-white) celadon and instead thickly drips and pools his glaze over blocky, hand-built structures. The most well-known seihakuji artist today, FUKAMI SUEHARU (b. 1947), creates unconventional incense burners as a balanced counterpart to his piercing sculptures. And a stunning abstracted horse sculpture by legendary avant-garde Sōdeisha founder SUZUKI OSAMU (1926-2001) provides further context to celadon’s many possibilities. Celadon work by both past and living Japanese artists MIURA KOHEIJI (1933-2006), TAKAGAKI ATSUSHI (b. 1946), HOSHINO GEN (b. 1973), and KUWATA TAKURŌ (b. 1981) complete the refreshingly varied exhibition.
Paired with this intriguing celadon showcase is a suite of never-before-seen paintings by MINOL ARAKI (1928-2010). An industrial designer and ink painter, Araki was a fascinating hybrid figure who bridged many worlds. As a Japanese artist born in northeast China, he was influenced by traditional Chinese painting—from Bada Shanren (ca. 1626-1705) to Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)—and by the Japanese painting movements of his time and even later, by contemporary American art. His work has been featured in two major museum retrospective exhibitions in the US: at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2017, and at the Phoenix Art Museum in 1999. Araki’s paintings reflect his sensitivity to color and light and make a perfect complement to the landscape of celadon in this show.