Friday, March 21, 2014


When I think of Aka-Shino, I think of rich, deep, even mysterious surfaces where the iron rich slip percolates up through the feldspar glaze. It is the really deep reds, royal reds that are so captivating, like the surface is alive with iron, where the transition between Aka-Shino and Murasaki Shino blurs. There have been a number of great potters who make Aka-Shino and no list would be complete without the original masters; Arakawa Toyozo and Kato Tokuro and his elegant Murasaki-Shino (Murasaki-Nioi). Though both are an exceptionally high bar of achievement, there are a handful of living potters who have also rightfully set the bar very high; Hayashi Shotaro, Suzuki Osamu, Yamada Kazu and Tamaoki Yasuo. Often considered one of "Mino's five great hopes", Tamaoki Yasuo (b.1941) is now one of the greats among the diverse Mino traditions creating Shino and Oribe works that are those exceptional blends of the old and the new, among which, his use of swirling and undulating resisted decoration is a welcome and adventurous addition to modern day Shino.
Dating from the early 1990's, this wonderful Aka-Shino bowl is an exceptional example of the work of Tamaoki Yasuo. The powerful form, tapering into the mouth with its undulating lip conjure up long past memories of the Momoyama era while firmly planted in more modern time. The rich red to orange tones are cloaked over in thicker running milky feldspar creating an evocative landscape that changes as the bowl is moved. It is the experienced hand of a master potter that bends happenstance into artlessness and beauty, for Tamaoki, this is a skill that appears to emanate naturally from his work.
"There is one art, no more, no less; to do all things with artlessness." A short "gruk" by Piet Hein (1905-1996)