Friday, August 19, 2011

IT IS WHAT IT IS...............

“They have no hidden symbolism or meaning,” he said, “They mean whatever you see in them. Any work of art belongs to everyone, because it is whatever each person sees in it.”      Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966)

Though at the time, Kawai was speaking about his carved wood sculpture, he said nearly the same thing about his sculptural henko forms. His commentary was that they were for whatever someone intended them for and it is this casual nature where he creates and gives over the creation to “everyone” that is one of his most admirable qualities. His belief that he was the creative conduit for the creation of his pots and sculpture is based on his serene belief and practice of Buddhism in which he credits that spiritual reality for his creative abilities. By looking at many of his pieces, it is easy to see their contemplative and Buddha-nature looking into their plastic form. From this perspective, Kawai was arguably, the most adept potter to accentuate form with his intentional decoration. Few others have risen to the level that Kawai Kanjiro achieved during his lifetime dedicated to clay.

Illustrated is a large henko by Kawai Kanjiro. This large molded bottle form has a clear glaze over the rocky Shigaraki blended clay body with large, spontaneous “splashes” of deep green and orangey red overglazes. This picture was taken at the KAWAI KANJIRO HOUSE museum on Gojozaka in Kyoto on one of our trips to Japan. If you are a potter or pottery lover, this museum is the first place you should visit in Kyoto!

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