Contemporary Japanese Ceramics:

Contemporary Japanese Ceramics:
Sakaida Kakiemon XIV, Yoshita Minori, Imaizumi Imaemon XIV and Other Masters from TOBI
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Sakaida Kakiemon XIV
Nigoshide white square vase
with persimmon patterns
H. 10 1/8 x W. 5 x D. 5 in.
(25.7 x 12.5 x 12.5 cm)
Yoshita Minori
Vase with sarasa patterns
Porcelain with gold underglaze
H. 16 1/2 x Dia. 10 2/5 in.
(42 x 26.5 cm)
On the occasion of TOBI Exhibition in New York
The history of ceramics closely parallels the history of medieval to early modern
Japan. Japanese people's values and aesthetics reflect this and it is witnessed in
Japanese ceramics.
This exhibition embodies in the ceramics presented the spirit and techniques
handed down for fourteen generations. Some artists incorporate an 800–year old
firing technique into modern times. Others studied ceramics at universities prior to
beginning their creative activities.
It is my honor to present an exhibition of current-day Japanese ceramics in a wide
range of creative expressions and techniques. I would also like to express my
heartfelt gratitude to Onishi Gallery and everyone for this opportunity as well as to
all others involved in this effort.
SAKAIDA Kakiemon
Chairman of TOBI, the Ceramic Art Society of Japan
In the craft art community in Japan, it is common practice to organize study groups
for its members to develop techniques and enhance knowledge by learning from
each other. They also organize exhibitions by soliciting submissions of works from
other groups, to create opportunities for rethinking and further discussions their
This process plays a positive role for craft artists by presenting their works to the
public, to seek understanding and support for their careers as artists who tend to be
isolated from the general public.
TOBI is one such collaborative group – run by both young artists and elite ceramists
such as those designated as Living National Treasures. In other words, this allows for
the elite artists to keep addressing the essence of ceramic art in contemporary life.
This is expressed in their prospectus, “To reexamine both the common practices and
taboos in ceramics developed in the past is a way to explore the path for new
expressions. It is hoped that the Tobi exhibition gives an opportunity for artists who
willingly confront issues of ‘today’ in a sincere manner to learn from each other in
the spirit of healthy competition.”
Among its members across the country, fifteen artists were selected for this
exhibition. They are from Eastern Japan, the Kansai, Chugoku and Kyushu areas.
I hope the visitors will fully enjoy this variety of top contemporary ceramic works
from Japan.
Director, Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum
Researcher, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Nigoshide white plate with dianthus patterns, 2012; porcelain; h. 1 4/5 x dia. 15 9/10 in.
(4.6 x 40.6 cm)
SAKAIDA Kakiemon XIV (1934–)
Kakiemon, the colorful and decorative style of porcelain is named after the
illustrious family that perfected the wares in the Arita area of Kyushu. It is
well-known that since the early Edo period, Kakiemon porcelains have been
exported to Europe and treasured all over the world.
Sakaida Kakiemon, the current fourteenth generation head of the family is known
for works that showcase strong compositional motifs based on his studies in
Nihonga or Japanese-style painting prior to his training in porcelain production
with both his grandfather (Kakiemon XII, 1878–1963) and his father (Kakiemon
XIII, 1906–1982). He was designated a Living National Treasure in 2001 for his
excellence in overglazed enamel porcelains. His works display the harmonious
combination of traditional colors and motifs in the Kakiemon style infused with
his own contemporary artistic sensibilities that he cultivated through his training
as a Nihonga painter.
The beauty of Kakiemon porcelain lies not only in the finished product; the
appeal of Kakiemon is in the perfect balance between the richly colored and
delicately executed enamel paintings against the pure white grounds of negative
space. The special white porcelain base called nigoshide (milk-white base),
specific to Kakiemon porcelain, was invented in the late seventeenth century by
the first generation of Arita ware producers. There was a time in the eighteenth
century when porcelain production by the Kakiemon family came to a halt but it
was Sakaida Kakiemon’s father, Kakiemon XIII who succeeded in reviving the
tradition. In 1955 the nigoshide technique itself received the designation
Intangible Cultural Property by the Japanese government.
Plate with peony and dry-grass patterns, 2012; porcelain with gold underglaze;
h. 4 3/10 x dia. 19 2/5 in. (11 x 49.5 cm)
YOSHITA Minori (1932–)
The Yoshita family runs the Nishikiyama kiln which specializes in aka-e kinrande,
the highly decorative porcelain tradition using gold and red enamel painting in
brocade patterns of Kutani wares in Ishikawa. By 1951 Yoshita Minori, making
pottery since high school, took over the family business and became the third
generation head of the family. Since then, he has explored numerous traditional
techniques characteristic of the Nishikiyama Kiln while refining them in his
innovative ways.
The artist is recognized for his graceful works using yuri-kinsai (underglazed gold
decorative porcelain). This method itself was first developed in the 1960’s in
Kanazawa. The method incorporates the application of gold leaves in cut-out
patterns prior to applying glazes, rather than the traditional process of painting
patterns in gold pigments by brush. His technique is a perfect marriage of the
elegant Kutani porcelain tradition with kinpaku or gold-leaf, the highly prized local
product of Kaga domain, Ishikawa. His techniques opened up a new frontier in
the world of gold colored porcelain in Japan and, with its sophistication and
perfection, Yoshita is regarded as the leading figure in this field. In 2001 he
received the Medal of Purple Ribbon and was designated a Living National
Bowl with snow flower patterns, 2012; porcelain with iro-e polychrome enamel
painting with light sumi and sumi-hajiki; h. 5 1/10 x dia. 17 9/10 in. (13 x 45.6 cm)
IMAIZUMI Imaemon XIV (1962–)
Iro-Nabeshima (polychrome enamel painted porcelain) developed during the Edo
period (1615–1868) under the support of the Nabeshima domain in current-day
Saga prefecture. Highly praised for its meticulous enamel painting techniques
which illustrate both Asian and Western motifs, Nabeshima wares have been one
of the most celebrated porcelains both in and outside of Japan. The Imaizumi
family is the one who has handed down this tradition of Nabeshima wares since
the Edo period. Imaizumi Imaemon became the fourteenth generation head of
the family upon completing his studies in traditional metalwork in college,
followed by working in the product design industry. He inherited the reputation
and a long tradition but along with them, the challenge to further the
development of Nabeshima wares. His signature techniques include both the
classical sumi-hajiki technique—a dyeing technique that takes advantage of the
repellent nature of sumi ink applied onto the white porcelain base to create
patterns or motifs prior to firing—passed on since the Edo period, and a new
overglaze painting technique using platinum (platinum coloring). Imaizumi adds
his personal tastes to decorative designs by rendering classical favorites such as
plum and hydrangea motifs with more modern patterns such as snowflakes.
Celadon vase with wood grain patterns, 1986; porcelain; h. 4 x dia. 17 2/5 in. (10.2 x 44.4 cm)
TSUTSUI Hiroaki (1951–)
Tsutsui Hiroaki's career as a ceramic artist evolves around his life-long fascination
with celadons. After his first apprenticeship in Kutani ware production, Tsutsui
moved to Kyoto in 1976 to study with the acclaimed ceramic artists Shimizu Uichi
(1926–2004) and Kawase Mitsuyuki (1933– ). In 1980 he established his own kiln
in the Mount Hotaka region of Nagano where the artist has been persistently
seeking the mastery of porcelains and experimenting with new possibilities. His
wide-ranging ouevre is the result of his exploration of various techniques and
expressions in porcelain, including hoko-saiji or polychrome porcelains, employing
matt glazes and shallow relief techniques. Another specialty of the artist is
celadon work in clean and sharp forms composed of curves. Applying original
mokuri-mon, or wood grain patterns, and soft colored celadon glazes to those
forms, the artist succeeds in rendering both softness and sharpness to his
porcelains. His works have been exhibited at museums such as the National
Museum of Modern Arts, Tokyo, and the Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum.
Octagonal box with wild bird designs, 2012; porcelain with overglaze enamel and gold;
h. 4 2/5 x w. 12 1/5 x d. 12 in. (11.3 x 31.2 x 30.8 cm)
TAKAHASHI Makoto (1950–)
Takahashi is known for his iro-e, or richly-colored overglaze enamel paintings,
depicting lively motifs from nature such as wild birds and flowers on his porcelain
vessels. The artist combined his experience, knowledge, and skills to express his
artistic world with the highly demanding materials of enamels, first through his
mentor Fujimoto Yoshimichi (1919–1992), the renowned ceramist designated a
Living National Treasure in 1986 for his innovative color enamel techniques on
porcelain. Takahashi first met him when he trained as an artist at the Tokyo
National University of Arts and Music, where Fujimoto was a professor of
ceramics courses. After graduating with a master’s degree in 1976, Takahashi
continued to study with Fujimoto and worked closely with him for ten years. In
1986 Takahashi established his own kiln in Odawara city, Kanagawa, where he
continues to live and work, pursuing his artistic vision through enamel-painted
porcelains for nearly four decades leading the field of iro-e production in Japan.
Water jar with pseudo-camellia design, 2012; porcelain with colored glazes; h. 4 1/10 x dia. 3 4/5 in.
(10.5 x 9.7 cm)
ENO Masatake (1965–)
Eno Masatake explores the technique yu-byo (glaze-painting) in his polychrome
porcelain works. This unique method of porcelain painting whereby colors are
applied on glazed bisque ware before firing was first developed by the porcelain
artist pioneer Fujimoto Yoshimichi (1919–1972). Fujimoto received the title
Important Intangible Cultural Asset in 1986 for perfecting this technique which
allowed for more nuanced pictorial expressions on porcelain, akin to Japanesestyle or ink painting which was unattainable with conventional porcelain painting
techniques. Eno inherited this technique from Fujimoto’s student, Matsuoka
Eno has been fascinated by this distinctive yu-byo technique because it enables
him to work with both the austerity of porcelain and softer motifs by matt-glazing
and pigment absorption on glazes through several firings for a work. Also, he is
interested in exploring the interrelationship between the vessel’s form and designs
which are often of flowers and plants covering the surfaces. Since 2009 the artist
has been operating his own kiln in Yoshida-cho, Shizuoka prefecture, and continues
his endeavors in polychrome porcelain production.
Blue Bizen vessel with white clay patterns, 2012; stoneware; h. 13 3/10 x w. 18 4/5 x d. 18 4/5 in.
(34 x 48 x 48 cm)
SUZUKI Miki (1970–)
Suzuki Miki was born in Bizen, Okayama, as the first son to the famed ceramist
Suzuki Koichi (1942–). Eager to learn about ceramics of different traditions
outside of his native Bizen, he went to Kyoto and studied at the Ceramic Training
School. Following his schooling, he studied for years with the ceramist Okamoto
Akira (1941–), including one year in Jingdezhen, China.
His most recent endeavor is called ao-Bizen (Blue Bizen), in which a peculiar blue
color is achieved solely through firing, and not by glazes or by applying pigments.
It was Suzuki’s determination and persistence through the process of trial and
error that he was able to achieve the high skills required for this delicate firing
process. In addition, his application of white clay to this blue surface using the
itchin decorative technique (applying slip with a bamboo tube to a vessel’s
surface), adds the interesting effects of convex white patterns of hakudei-mon, or
white clay patterns, on his vessels. This is the artist’s original creation and also
new to Bizen wares, which have a long history beginning with Sue-ki, the gray
unglazed stonewares, first said to be introduced to Japan in the fifth or sixth
century by Korean immigrants. Suzuki believes his goal as a ceramist of a younger
generation in tradition-laden Bizen, is to embrace history while challenging
himself to explore stoneware creation to its fullest potential.
Vase with Japanese zelkova tree design, 2012; stoneware with silver inlay; h. 16 1/5 x w. 9 3/5 x d. 6 in.
(41.2 x 24.5 x 15.3 cm)
SAEKI Moriyoshi (1949–)
Born to a sculptor father in Utsunomiya city, Saeki Moriyoshi began studying
ceramics in the Department of Crafts at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts
and Music where he graduated with a master’s degree in 1977. His talents were
quickly recognized even as a student through participation in juried competitions
such as the Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition. After working at a commercial
pottery studio in Mashiko, Saeki established his own kiln in 1981 and has since
been working there independently.
Saeki is one of a handful of ceramists who work with inlays or zogan, a decorative
technique in which incised motifs on the surface of the bisque are filled with
different colors or types of clay. He is, however, fluent in both pictorial and abstract
patterning in his works and is especially known for the poetic landscape imagery he
creates on vessels with the exquisite inlay techniques. Saeki’s signature images on
his vessels are Japanese landscapes of lakes, forests (especially of Japanese
zelkova trees), and mountains executed in this inlay technique, and not with enamel
painting techniques typically used to create such images.
In addition to ceramic production, Saeki is involved with education of the younger
generations through academic programs and by participating in artist exchange
programs in China, Korea and Japan.
Large Bowl with Galaxy Design in Blue, 2007; porcelain; h. 4 7/10 x dia. 20 4/5 in.
(12 x 53 cm)
SHOMURA Ken (1949–)
Shomura Ken is the fifth generation head of the Banko kiln which dates back to
the Meiji period (1868−1912) in Arita. Although polychrome enamel painted
porcelain and blue-and-white porcelain (sometsuke) are most prevalent in Arita,
the artist first worked with white and blue celadons. He studied for seven years
with the leading expert of white porcelain production Inoue Manji, designated a
Living National Treasure in 1995. Shomura trained with Inoue making vessels on
a potter’s wheel, which became the foundation for his eventual works of clear and
sleek porcelain. Shomura’s celadon works quickly gained recognition in juried
competitions and at the young age of 31 won a high prize at the prestigious
Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition in 1980.
Shomura continued to challenge himself and developed his signature techniques,
ai-zome or indigo-dyeing and beni-zome or red-dyeing. This he attributes to his
prior experience with stoneware production, albeit a short period of time. The
exploration of glazes for stonewares allowed Shomura to take the bold approach
of applying them for the first time to porcelains. Shomura works with such
ingenuity and creativity towards new types of porcelain production in Arita.
Silky White Vase – Jewel Line, 2012; porcelain; h. 9 4/5 x dia. 9 2/5 in. (25 x 24 cm)
SHOMURA Hisaki (1974–)
Shomura Hisaki, son of Ken, studied industrial chemistry in college then attended
Arita College of Ceramics before starting to work at his family kiln. His original
works called shirotae-ji are works in which the artist sought to perfect the silky
white hue of porcelain on his own. To bring about infinite subtle expressions solely
in white, the artist experimented with transparent glazes and simple patterns on
austere vessel forms. As an emerging young artist from Arita, Shomura has won
numerous awards at competitions such as at the Japan Traditional Art Crafts
Exhibition, and has shown works at solo exhibitions in various cities of Japan.
Vase with carved pattern, 2009; wheel-thrown and altered blue-white
porcelain; h. 11 2/5 x dia. 9 3/5 in. (29 x 24.5 cm)
Peter Mark HAMANN (1956–)
Peter Hamann has been a resident of Japan for more than 30 years although he
was born in Nebraska and first studied ceramics in the United States. Upon his
arrival in Japan, he re-educated himself in ceramics and at the same time was
introduced to chanoyu or the Japanese tea ceremony. After his diligent studies of
tea in the Yabuuchi style with the master Fukuda Chikuyu, he obtained the license
to teach chanoyu in 2010. At the annual tea ceremony he holds in his traditional
Japanese-style residence in the Tanba region of Hyogo where he also established
his kiln, the artist welcomes more than 200 guests with tea and his own ceramic
works. Thus his creation of ceramics is strongly connected to his tea ceremony
practice; Hamann believes that the appreciation and respect for objects of quality
that chanoyu teaches is an important aspect of Japanese culture that permeates
through its society. In the same context, Hamann believes in the utility of the
vessels he creates.
The artist specializes in refined carved porcelain works and his own interpretation
of the medium developed over time since his early encounters of his ceramist
career. Hamann's recent works show that the bold curvilinear patterns of the
works themselves have in turn affected and transformed the vessels’ shapes. His
works have been recognized at juried shows such as the Traditional Japanese Art
Crafts exhibitions. In 1996 he joined the prestigious Japan Art Crafts Association
and remains its only Western member.
Vase, 2010; porcelain with enamel and gold in the kinran-de style; h. 9 1/5 x dia. 18 1/10 in.
(23.5 x 46 cm)
YOSHITA Yukio (1960–)
Born into the Yoshita family of porcelain artists, Yukio has forged an independent
style in his works that echoes traditional Kutani overglaze techniques of his native
Kanazawa and at the same time reflective of his own aesthetic sensibilities.
Yoshita’s expressions with colors such as the faded pastel shades that recall
frescoes of the Italian Renaissance and poetic expressions of color akin to
watercolor drawings on porcelain surfaces, are his special achievements and the
works stand out amongst the bold-colored smooth-surfaced wares of traditional
Kutani wares. Yoshita applies pastel matte glazes to the white porcelain bodies of
elegant vessels, often painted in overlapping or blurring abstract patterns. He also
uses metallic over-glaze gold to highlight the designs. Yoshita’s works are housed
in museums both in and outside of Japan, such as at the Ishikawa Prefectural
Museum of Art, Kanazawa and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana.
Vessel, 2012; stoneware with indigo Shino glaze; h. 15 1/2 x dia. 15 3/10 in. (39.5 x 39 cm)
SAKAI Hiroshi (1960–)
Sakai Hiroshi has pursued his own artistic expressions in Shino wares by integrating
traditional and innovative techniques with his aesthetic tastes. Since completing
courses at the Tajimi City Ceramic Design Research Center in Gifu, he continued his
studies with Kato Kozo (1935–), named a Living National Treasure. While Sakai’s
use of kairagi, the sharply textured hallmark glaze of Shino wares, pays homage to
his respected master, he developed his own distinct coloring using blue zaffer,
perfecting the “indigo Shino” glaze. The combination of exquisitely rendered shades
of indigo with the crackled kairagi surfaces on his boldly designed vessels are highly
regarded both in and outside of Japan. The artist has also been a frequent
participant in international ceramic competitions and exhibitions in Faenza, Italy,
Taiwan, and Korea. His works are represented in collections such as the Tajimi Mino
Pottery Museum in Japan, the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy,
and the World Ceramic Exposition Foundation in Korea.
Vessel, 2012; stoneware with sprayed slip decoration and gold overglaze;
h. 14 9/10 x w. 17 9/10 x d. 9 in. (38 x 45.5 x 23 cm)
SHIMIZU Ichiji (1961–)
Born in the Tanba area of Hyogo, Shimizu Ichiji established his own kiln Hakuyogama in 2004, after studying ceramics not only in his hometown but also in other
historic kiln sites such as Seto and Bizen. His works using delicate gold lines and
scarlet colors along with sprayed slip decorations, are highly praised for their
contemporary twists on rustic and earthy conventional Tanba wares. Since 2003
his works have been acknowledged in mainstream exhibitions such as the one
sponsored by the Japan Traditional Art Crafts Association, but also at others such
as the Japan Ceramic Exhibition, a biannual competition held since 1971 not
limited to artists belonging to specific schools and associations. As a rising artist,
Shimizu won a special award sponsored by the Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum at
their twentieth exhibition in 2009.
Vase with geometric pattern, 2012; stoneware with copper painting; h. 12 1/5 x dia. 12 1/2 in.
(31 x 32 cm)
KOYAMA Koichi (1960–)
Koyama Koichi studied ceramics at Tamagawa University. He set up his kiln
Ryusen-yo in the Yanaka district of downtown Tokyo where he was born and
raised, and has since been working there independently. While teaching ceramics
at local community and adult programs, he participated in juried exhibitions and
competitions, quickly gaining recognition in the late 1990’s after receiving the
Special Award at the Asahi Ceramic Art Exhibition.
Seeking novel colors and textures, the artist does not hesitate to explore new
materials and methods in his overglaze painted works previously not used in
Japanese ceramic production. For example, metals are conventionally used in
leaf- or pigment-form in creating decorative surfaces, but by applying them in
innovative ways using chloride fluid, the artist is able to achieve the creation of
original ceramic works by uniting fresh abstract patterns with new colors and
techniques. The distinct and subdued blue tones, unlike the typical cobalt and
enamel blues, are among his technical and artistic achievements that are highly
Contemporary Japanese Ceramics:
Sakaida Kakiemon XIV, Yoshita Minori, Imaizumi Imaemon XIV
and Other Masters from TOBI
Exhibition During Asia Week New York 2013
March 12 – 28, 2013
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 14, 5 – 8 pm
Friedman Vallois LLC
27 East 67th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10065
Hours of exhibition:
March 12 – 15, 11 am – 5 pm
March 16 – 23, 10 am – 6 pm daily, including Sunday
March 24 – 28, 11 am – 5 pm
Other times by appointment
Nana Onishi / Onishi Gallery
[email protected]
Onishi Gallery
521 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001 t. 212-695-8035
[email protected] /