Fujikake Yuzan was born in 1936, and began bonsai and pottery as a hobby when young. He built his first kiln in Kiryu in 1970, but later moved it to Gunma in 1978. He owns and runs the Cafe Dosenbo, where many of his pots are on display.
Beginning as a hobby potter, working with just ceramics, he began making porcelain and painting pots at the encouragement of Takeyama, another famous potter. He first showed his pots at a club show in Kiryu city, the location of his first kiln, and there famous potter and pot historian Zeko Nakamura bought every piece he had, and Yuzan became one of the most respected painters of porcelain through Zeko virtually overnight.
Yuzan pots are either hand carved or wheel thrown, and all painting is done freestyle, without templates, so each piece is unique.
For a more detailed article on Yuzan, see the excellent article on Peter Krebs’ excellent website, here:
Fujikake Yuzan, Bonsaipots.net
Now, on to the pots!
This small 4.5″ Red painted rectangle is formerly of my collection, I’ve shown it here before. Alas, it went to a new home last week. The painting is very detailed and there is excellent brushwork.
This one is super cool. I’ve mentioned before that Tsukinowa Yusen based many of his landscapes on Hiroshige Ando’s “Stations of the Tokaido”. It’s now de rigeur for porcelain painters to do the same. This is Yuzan’s version of station 36 of Ando’s masterpiece.
This one comes from my friend Ursula in Germany. The deep blue of the painting is unusual for a Yuzan, more reminiscent of Yusen’s deep indigo sometsuke.
Four different, and unique, bird painted pots. A common theme with Yuzan’s paintings. I really love the details to the two detailed blues and the red, and the more impressionistic geometric bird piece resembles the work Okamura Shozan.
Two sides of a go-sai round pot. Really great use of the classic 5-colors, though it takes a very strong tree to stand up to the brightness and busyness of Yuzan go-sai!
A tall cascade with red landscape and bottom band. Very much in the old Chinese style of pot! The very soft lines of the painting contrast nicely with the sting lines and angles of the pot.
A sometsuke rectangle with the marvelous brushwork and clear directionality Yuzan pots are famous for.
This one is interesting. Early work(we’ll get into that later), with a cloud on an indigo glazed mokko pot. Very cool.
Very early work Celadon porcelain showing marvelous patina. That the box and original fabric have remained with the pot is uncommon.
A go-sai square. The brightness of the colors is strong. More like Joshu Shouzan, this painting features little black.
Two sides of a tall cascade square showing more typical Yuzan use of the five colors. A little darker, with more black and green. The details are outstanding.
A darker sometsuke with landscape. I love the harmonious feeling between the shape and the painting, and the negative space in the top left.
A small square semi-cascade sometsuke with outward feet. Fine line brushwork, and the finish that Yuzan is known for.
And we’ll finish up the pots with a very unique piece featuring Calligraphy on one side, and animals on the other. An odd piece, and uncharacteristic for Yuzan, but illustrative of his varied style!
One really cool feature of Fujikake Yuzan pots is their “Datability”. Yuzan pots can be accurately dated based on the signature, which Yuzan has changed periodically. While many potters do this, with Yuzan it is unique as a clear record exists for when the signature change was made. Here’s a simple guide.
So starting from the top right as 1, bottom right as 4, Yuzans pots can be dated as follows:
1. Pre 1973
3. 1977-1978(when his kiln moved)
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these Yuzan pots and learning about his signatures. Next time: Antique Chinese Pots!