Friday, September 23, 2016
Though I regret not having had more time to study with and observe Kohyama Yasuhisa working, I am quite grateful to have had the opportunity to watch him prepare clay, wheel throw, coil build, slice earth, load his anagama and the firing process from beginning to end. Together with those experiences, I was also able to see him prepare and pack his pieces for his show at the Museum het Princessehof, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, create pots for his standard ware firing and partake of his excellent cooking! Truthfully this experience was amazing and was filled with a myriad of details that have colored how I work and who I am as a potter whether it appears so or not.
It is the details of Kohyama-sensei's process that are easy to overlook and pass by as one takes in the whole, but it is the sharp and critical aspects that help define his works from the pots of other potters from Shigaraki and elsewhere in both the making and the firing. Illustrated is a close-up shot of a tsubo-guchi of one of Kohyama Yasuhisa's mentori vases. The way that Kohyama facets leads the clay to be cut crisply and definitively in a rather quick sucession of motions that few others can mimic and are clearly the result of having pioneered this particular approach to faceting and dedicated a lifetime to its perfection. It is these fast cuts that define the pot, from the long and broad facets around the body of a piece to the more intimate and intricate faceting that defines the neck and mouth that once fired allows a build up of a wet, green ash to paint the angular surfaces without obscuring the defined sharpness of the details. Though ever so slightly softened by firing process and ash, the form remains as created by a master who would appear to be gazing in to a crystal ball seeing well into the finished work even while he is still adding coils to a pot that has just started its journey to completion.