Monday, March 5, 2012


Illustrated is a very fine hanaire by legendary potter, Okabe Mineo (1919-1990). Made sometime during the mid-1960's, this hanaire is quintessential Okabe Ko-Seto style work and shows his profound knowledge of clay and ash glaze(s) that his is so well known for. In this particular form, the heavily textured clay is not masked with a dark and sometimes opaque Oribe, allowing for the Ko-Seto ash to animate the marks and run down the pot, accentuating the vertical nature of the piece. The varying tones of the glaze pool within texture creating a myriad of colors and fluidity that captures the movement of the vase. This hanaire is among one of the finest of this style that I have seen.

Like Tsukigata Nakiho's investigation, experimentation and mastery of Shino and Iron, Okabe Mineo focused on the use of ash and iron in glazes from 1947 on. It could possibly be a connection to the tradition of Seto where he was born, but his focus on ash was a major part of his use of clay and development of form. Okabe used ash in all of his glazes from Shino, Oribe, Ki-Seto, Ko-Seto and added iron as a major constituent of glazes to create his unique celadons including his trademark yohen beishokuji. His wonderful body of glazes based on ash and iron where further altered and rendered unique to Okabe by his skillful mastery of firing the kiln. His glazes would transmute in the kiln atmosphere in a style known as yohen (kiln change). The is no doubt that among Okabe Mineo's diverse legacy will be the broad and idiosyncratic body of glazes that he has left behind for collector and potter to study and contemplate in wonderment.

(The illustration is used with the kind permission of a collector, a friend, whose keen eye and passion for modern Japanese ceramics has put together an impressive collection. Several of the pots seen on my blog are from his collection.)

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