Monday, August 13, 2012


Recently a collector friend sent me a group of vases and several chawan to look at and identify. The pieces had been collected over a decade of living in Japan. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was aware he had a keen eye so I had very high hopes. The collector, primarily interested in Nihonto, collected the pieces from 2002 to 2011 and were bought from either gallery shows or ceramic dealers. As I began to unpack the group, I was immediately struck  by the potters and styles. The first two unpacked were vases by Matsuzaki Ken, both exceptionally well wood fired. The next pot was a heavily faceted Ki-Seto vase by Ando Hidetake and the last vase an ancient looking Iga piece by Kojima Kenji with impressed stamps on either side and a wild array of ash, including the upper portion covered in a blanket of green ash acting as a window into the violent nature of the firing. The two chawan didn't disappoint either, one an illustrated  Shigaraki chawan by the late Furutani Michio and a phenomenal Iga chawan with a brilliant wonky posture born out of design and intense heat. In total, an impressive, small collection of great pots.
Illustrated is a stellar Iga chawan by Kojima Kenji. Over three-quarters of the exterior surface is covered in cascading ash, creating the impression of perpetual movement.  The interior is also covered in ash with the floor of the bowl having a glorious pool of brilliant green glass staring back at the viewer. The foot and overall form has been pushed to the limit of the intense firing and what is left is a pot that displays a timeless, medieval attitude that is the goal of many  a potter, which few can achieve.
"I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I cannot appreciate." Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

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