Wednesday, April 9, 2014


When I think about Bizen, there is modern Bizen and there is what is known as Ko-Bizen, which means, simply, "old Bizen". Though you can look at the term Ko-Bizen on face value, I tend to look at it as a tradition that set the standards, style, techniques, firing and quality for Bizen rather than just referring to pre-modern pottery. Pots today are definitely made in the Ko-Bizen tradition though they are modern pots, in essence they build on all that was old to continue that unbroken thread to the present day. For Kitaoji Rosanjin that was a great part of his pursuit of pottery, especially in his Bizen, Shigaraki, Iga, Oribe and Shino works. He would study the great works of times past to understand the nature, intent and spirit of those pieces and do all in his power to instill the same in his own work though allowing his voice to the surface of the pot. The illustrated Bizen chawan is certainly one of those works that straddles the temporal fence between the past and the present (at the time it was made). This streamlined, purposeful bowl  creates a powerful posture and is wonderfully colored with rich purple to brown fire color and a face and lip painted with ash, adding to the landscape of the pot. What Rosanjin managed to create is a chawan that absolutely speaks to the past while maintaining its place as a 20th century pot.
"That is why I turn to the works of the ancient masters and seek to read their hearts. Nothing makes me happier than to discover, little by little, that I can read the heart of some ancient potter - for I too want my work to be a reflection of the heart. When I succeed in creating a piece straight from the heart, I can't help slapping my knee and thinking "This is how it was for the ancients!" *
(* A quote from THE ART OF ROSANJIN  by Cardozo and Hirano)