Monday, October 27, 2014


There is a profound simplicity , honesty and beauty to the "ordinary" pottery of the original mingei movement. Pots that stressed utility and function married with common aesthetics that everyday people could connect with. There is a profund The pots of Hamada Shoji, Kawai Kanjiro, Murata Gen, Sakuma Totaro and Ueda Tsuneji (上田恒次) among others were inspired and created to be used and continue on varying folk traditions that seemed to be suffering at the hands of an unbridled output of industry and mass production. The Mingei movement like the Arts & Crafts Movement sought to bring the concept of the hand made back to the forefront as not to be totally over run by factory produced goods. Though the mingei movement has its proponents today, it was the first generation of mingei potters that helped launch a revolution among potters and whose influence is still felt today.
Among the early mingei potters, Ueda Tsuneji (1914-1987) stands out for the practical and elegant works that he produced in shinsha, seihakuji, hakuji and neriage. He apprenticed with Kawai Kanjiro and even studied wheel throwing with Hamada Shoji for a time, but it is under Kawai that he learned the "studio secrets" of the Chinese T'ang techniques of neriage and nerikomi. Though quite adept at a number of styles, Ueda's mastery of neriage stands out as bold and rich pattern integrated within his simple and common forms. Working in a variety of techniques, his neriage created overall patterns as well as designs woven into form. The illustrated mizusashi in four views shows how adeptly Ueda built pattern that worked with and enriched each sides creating four associated but individual views around the pot. Though neriage/nerikomi are common  enough techniques today, Ueda mastered the process through trial and error when few others sought to marry mingei pottery with long forgotten ancient techniques for everyday use and admiration.

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