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The Five Elements - Gogyō / Five Japanese Masters of the Art of Clay
January 18 - 27, 2018
The Winter Show
Park Avenue Armory at 67th St, NY, NY

NEW YORK - Joan B. Mirviss Ltd., a leader in Japanese contemporary clay art based in New York, is pleased to present the work of five major ceramic artists at the 2019 Winter Show. The exhibition, "The Five Elements-- Gogyō / Five Japanese Masters of the Art of Clay" features the work of FUTAMURA Yoshimi (b. 1959), KAKUREZAKI Ryūichi (b. 1950), KANETA Masanao (b. 1953), KONDŌ Takahiro (b. 1958), and YOSHIKAWA Masamichi (b. 1946). These internationally known ceramists offer the American public a rare look into the world of contemporary Japanese clay drawn from the aesthetics of ancient Asia, refined and reworked in a thoroughly modern context. These five celebrated Japanese ceramic artists have agreed to create new works specifically designed for this remarkable show.

Each artist approaches his or her work from a variety of different technical and aesthetic perspectives, ranging from sculpture to functional work; stoneware to porcelain; monochrome to polychrome glazing; and a single to as many as four separate firings. The exhibition will include ceramics ranging from those employing centuries-old traditions using white Hagi glaze and blue-and-white (sometsuke) decoration to innovative patented metallic glazing.

The title, Five Elements or Gogyō refers to an ancient Chinese system of describing the physical world according to the five natural principles: wood, fire, earth, metal and water that became an integral part of Taoism. In Japan, such traditional Chinese philosophical concepts were incorporated into Neo-Confucian teachings that flourished during the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). The philosophy of Gogyō has been adopted into many of the Chinese arts, such as Feng Shui, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, astrology, and so on, while in Japan it became part of the indigenous religion of Shintoism and is widely used in astrology, calendars, and in traditional rituals.

These five principle elements are inherent in the making of nearly all clay artwork. With earth or clay as its basic material, ceramics also require the obvious implementation of water required to mold the clay, wood for fueling the fire to sufficiently bake the vessel, and metals that are present both in the glazes and the soil itself. For the purpose of this exhibition, each aritst was invited because of their individual aesthetic and unique techniques that reflect in a specific way one of these core principles.

FUTAMURA YOSHIMI (b. 1956): WOOD. Born in Nagoya, Futamura was traditionally trained at the Seto School of Ceramics in 1979 where she first embraced the techniques of the historic Seto ceramic center, one of the Six Old Kilns. She moved to France over thirty years ago and her recent work has truly matured with an elegant, Parisian flair. Futamura begins on the wheel, creating a tubular form to which she applies a white porcelain slip. The dried slip cracks as she manipulates the shape from the inside out, perforating, tearing, and expanding the clay before drying then firing. The result is the textured, geological forms for which she is best known. Through this innovative process, Futamura reveals the power inherent within her medium. The deep cavities in her work that accompany fissured surfaces seem on the brink of bursting into expansion or sinking into collapse. Her surfaces have often been compared to petrified wood or old burled logs. Museums with works in their permanent collection include the Musée Français de Céramique de Fuping, China; Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; New Orleans Museum of Art, LA; Yale University Art Gallery, CT and more.

KANETA MASANAO (b. 1954): EARTH. A master of the noborigama, or multi-chambered climbing kiln, Kaneta is able to control and effectuate a remarkable range of coloration and kiln effects in his work. Utilizing the unctuous, creamy white-pink glazes that have defined Hagi-ware for centuries, Kaneta's glaze accentuates the jagged features of his ceramic artworks. The result evokes dramatic landscapes, full of sweeping curves, subtle striations, sharp peaks and sudden plunges reminiscent of those found in Hagi, the ceramic center of his birth. He uses eight generations of Hagi tradition imparted by his forefathers to create a sculptural oeuvre grounded in functionality. His creative process finds balance between the forceful energy produced by striking clay with a wooden mallet to generate form, with the more delicate kuri-nuki, scooping out the core to create a hollowed vessel. Kaneta regards the final artwork as the result of a dialogue, or even a confrontation, between his consciousness and the natural spirit of the clay itself. Many prominent US museums feature Kaneta's work in their permanent collections including Asian Art Museum, CA; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art; as well as National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Kaneta Masanao currently serves as professor of ceramics at Tsukuba University.

KAKUREZAKI RYŪICHI (b. 1950): FIRE. is a celebrated Bizen clay artist whose exhibitions in Japan often sell out within minutes of opening. Born far from Bizen near Nagasaki, Kakurezaki is viewed as an outsider in Imbe, the birthplace of Bizen ware. The distinction has allowed him to experiment in ways that most of the other 500 potters working there cannot. While he works within the long tradition of Bizen ceramics, aesthetically his work is quite different, extending far beyond traditional or classical forms of centuries past that prevail even today. Firmly rounded in functionality, Kakurezaki does not view himself as a renegade artist but rather as a creator of works that are themselves avant-garde, pushing the old boundaries with thoroughly original forms enhanced with a broad range of surface effects produced in a variety of kilns. Within the world of Bizen ceramics his range is unmatched. His fresh and independent vision has already inspired other potters who are not content with ancient classical shapes to imitate his forms-perhaps the highest praise of all. His works have entered museum collections throughout the world and have recently been featured at major exhibitions at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Japan Society, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; and Musée National de Céramique, Sévres France.

KONDO TAKAHIRO (b. 1958): METAL. who was born in Kyoto is the grandson of the renowned National Living Treasure Kondō Yūzō (1902-1985), known for his blue-and-white porcelain, but has established his own separate artistic identity. In just over fifteen years, he has gathered a major international following, with shows in New York, Scotland and even at the Palace Museum, Beijing where he was the first Japanese contemporary ceramist to be so honored. During this period, Kondō has explored the theme of water, developing a patented glaze made from silver, gold, glass, and platinum, drop glaze representing "water born out of fire." Applied on porcelain boxes, vases and sculpted forms, his glazes create jewel-like surfaces that appear both celestial and aquatic at the same time. The unique, gintekisai ("silver mist") overglaze is often capped by removable covers created from luminous layers of cast glass. In a way, his work most clearly represents the essence of Gogyō theme. His works are represented in many private and public collections including Brooklyn Museum, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Boston; Sao Paolo Museum, Brazil; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Fitzwilliam Museum, UK; Royal Museum of Scotland, UK; and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN.

YOSHIKAWA MASAMICHI (b. 1946): WATER. Based in Tokoname, Yoshikawa concentrates on creating seihakuji or bluish-white glazed ceramic works. While traditionally celadons were celebrated for their thin and sharp forms, Yoshikawa creates sculptural forms in porcelain after his own aesthetic: thick, bold, and covered with pooling and dripping seihakuji glaze. He also paints with sometsuke, or underglaze cobalt blue, to fashion lively calligraphic designs on the surfaces of his functional work as well as beneath the feet of his larger non-functional forms. His unique technique and reinterpretation of these classical idioms have received both national and international recognition. International public museums with his work in their permanent collections span four continents and over fifteen countries.

The Five Elements - Gogyō / Five Japanese Masters of the Art of Clay, presented by Joan B. Mirviss LTD will take place at the Winter Show located at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street, New York, NY from January 18 - 27, 2019. Please contact our gallery directly at or by telephone 212-799-4021 or check the website for further details.


About Joan B. Mirviss, LTD.

Joan B Mirviss has been a renowned expert in Japanese art, specializing in prints, paintings, screens and contemporary ceramics for more than thirty years. She is the leading Western dealer in the field of modern and contemporary Japanese ceramics, and her New York gallery, Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd., exclusively represents the top Japanese clay artists. As a distinguished, widely published, and respected specialist in her field, Mirviss has advised and built collections for many museums and major private collectors.