Wednesday, February 12, 2014


It is exceedingly easy to marvel at simplicity. How is it possible to strip away the unwanted encumbrances, additions, distractions, to do away with all the superfluous that can weigh down an object? There is a palpable complexity to simplicity and in its creation, it is never born from over thought, conscious action, rather it springs from a disciplined and well practiced extension of years of unconscious repetition earned over decades of "doing". A simple object exudes a clarity of idea and purpose since there is nothing to clutter the direct intent of its function in a classic example of "less means more". As a potter, I know I can be guilty of "more means more" and though I won't blame our modern times for that stern indoctrination, it is not a simple thing to work consciously in an unconscious manner, for most of us, it goes against our accumulated experiences. It might be this fact alone that makes the creation of simple, honest pots both so difficult and so greatly admired, quite frankly, simple is just awfully hard.
Illustrated is a straightforward and uncomplicated mallet vase by one of the brilliant talents of modern Japan, Hori Ichiro. Uncluttered in form, yet noble and gestural in its simplicity, the pot has been dipped, seemingly, hap-hazardly in a satiny smooth Shino glaze that has created an nearly infinite variety of effects and has painted a masterful surface over the pot. The manner in which the Shino has areas of thick and thin glaze, varying effects, together with rich tsuchi-aji and the aftermath of wood-firing has served to create a pot that is anything but simple. The vase has much to say about the process of creation, materials and the potter, a conversation that may start out as a simple whispered word or two that over time as a lifelong companion, has a great deal to say about its presence, tradition and an artist who has combined the old with the new.