Friday, July 29, 2011


As long as I have been interested in Japanese art, I have loved traditional Japanese painting and calligraphy. When you pair those with the imagery of pottery, well, I am always interested. This modern shikishi (poem card) is by Shimizu Kosho (1911-1999), a Buddhist priest who created art in a variety of mediums, including paintings and actual pottery. This painting depicts a kintsugi style chawan by Honami Koetsu entitled, SEPPO (Snow Covered Hill) that has been lovingly repaired with gold lacquer brings the bowl to a state of wholeness again. Through the restorers’ art, the chawan must now be an entirely different vision that it was prior to its present state.  In the west, damaged pieces are many times thrown out, while in Japan, in particular, every care to preserve and restore, even ordinary objects, shows the reverence and respect afforded the hand made.

Though I have never seen the Seppo chawan in person, I can not even imagine it in any other vision beyond its reassembled presence. Its beautiful pinkish-brown glaze with areas of drifting grey-white punctuated by the dramatic gold lacquer assembly lines makes for a visual narrative distinct among other Raku masterpieces. It may sound somewhat heretical, but from my perspective, the state it now is in, makes for a much richer and even more interesting piece. The story it could tell regarding its survival and transformation into a broken beauty, are a testament that all the kings horses and all the kings man, can at least put pottery together again.

“It is better to have loft and lost than to never have loft at all.” Groucho Marx

                                            Seppo by Hon'ami Koetsu

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