Monday, November 19, 2012


There is something so evocative and elemental about a rich blue decoration against pure white porcelain which is both contemplative and intoxicating. Modern sometsuke pottery harkens back to an earlier time; to the dawn of the 20th century when studio potter like Seifu Yohei, Makuzu Kozan and Miura Chikusen perfected the art and much further back to the early days of the Edo Period (1600 to 1868). My first exposure to modern sometsuke wares was at the Ningen Kokuho and the Kikuchi exhibits seeing the wonderful blue and white porcelains of Kondo Yuzo and Kato Iwao. Kondo's works are well known in the West, while Kato Iwao is less so, though his sometsuke pots are both subtle and powerful statements in blue. Kato Iwao (b.1930) is a Kyoto potter,  who apprenticed with Kusube Yaichi and has dedicated his life to sometsuke porcelain of mostly exceptional floral design. Some of his pieces are accented with bold gold overglaze decoration adding to the exuberance and nobility of his work.

Illustrated is a hira-chawan by Kato Iwao. This chawan is rather broad at nearly 6.5" and has a subtle, drifting leaf incised and accented with shades of blue. The design is skillfully executed and is suspended in mid-air, as if a leaf on the wind.