Daniella on Design
Wada Morihiro And The Painted Ceramics
March 23, 2023
The annual Asia Week New York is the best occasion to celebrate Asian art in the Big Apple. It is the time when top-tier Asian art specialists, major auction houses, museums, and Asian cultural institutions congregate in New York to present and view the best of the best in Asian art. On this occasion, Joan B. Mirviss LTD presents a show that explores the tradition of Japanese painted ceramic decoration based on the legacy of master ceramicist Wada Morihiro (1944-2008), the famed past century Japanese ambassador of clay art.
Inventing his own signature expression in clay, Wada Morihiro created distinctive and intricate surface patterning on functional objects, which he designed in unique forms—sculptural vessels that corresponded to the nature of the decoration. His work brings to mind the early movements in European avant-garde: Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and particularly the abstract canvases of German modernist Paul Klee. Wada’s strong talent was in the way he abstracted nature, translating natural elements into symbols and decorative patterns. The exhibition presents a unique practice in Japanese clay art through work by different artists who practice polychrome surface paint on clay while employing a variety of techniques, providing context to Wada’s innovation.
He was influenced by legendary potter Kamoda Shoji, who has been credited for revolutionizing the art of ceramic in Japan. Wada has been considered highly collectible by museums and private collectors since the 1970s, and he was celebrated by galleries and the art-oriented Takashimaya department stores of the time. His name became known internationally, and he met Joan Mirviss, the founder of the Madison Avenue gallery in her expeditions, several times.
His technique was rooted in the Japanese tradition, and his rich patterns were crafted from natural materials such as clay, sand, and slip—experimenting with various natural clays that produce a variety of colors after high firing. He emerged as a fresh and bold talent within the long tradition of Japanese painted ceramics. For several decades up until his premature death in 2008, Wada was the most respected and sought-after Japanese artist to work with. This monographic exhibition provides a rare opportunity to closely study the work of this important artist and his oeuvre.