I’m on a posting blitz! After a month of not posting, I have several nearing completion, so, settle back for the third post in as many days.
If you look through Kokofu albums, most of the containers are, of course, antique Chinese. But following in second place is the work of Suzuki Syuzan(1928-1988). Well known as a potter of bonsai pots that are practical, and easy to use, Syuzan first came to prominence in the 60s with lovers of Satsuki. His kiln was located in the suburbs of Nagoya. The clay he uses is Chinese, and of extremely high quality, And his pots have a level of attention to detail rarely seen. He was known to be uncompromising in his search for quality clay, as well as in the details of his pots.
Let’s take a look at his work.
A soft rectangle from my collection with cut feet. Like most Syuzan, this a larger pot than most I feature here on the blog, 14″.
A glazed round riveted drum with cut feet, from my collection. Nice patina in this piece! We’ve talked a bit about potters that intentionally leave the feet unglazed to show the high quality of the clay, as opposed to sloppy glaze work. In Syuzan’s case, it’s always the former.
A wide mouth cascade with center band and interestingly detailed feet, formerly of the collection of Matt Ouwinga. Really nice details to this pot, and nice patina as well.
A more outlandish piece. Mokko shape bag with full cloud feet. Really nice looking clay.
Two slightly different bamboo banded soft rectangles. This style is the most commonly seen from Syuzan.
A really nicely made cascade or semi cascade square with outstanding patina.
A trio of riveted drums. Note the differences to the styles: masculine and formal, feminine and informal, and rustic swinging both ways.
Detail of outer chop on last drum.
A really nice lipped rectangle with band and cut feet. Nice patina!!!!
I’m not entirely sure, but this pot either has a very dark and unusual glaze, or some of the best patina one will see on a contemporary Japanese pot…I lean towards the latter.
A cascade style square with extraordinarily clean lines. Nice patina as well, the clay looks smooth and burnished with use.
A lipped and cut foot piece with a very interesting grey clay.
A very clean lipped bag pot with carved and applied feet.
An interesting rusticly textured baggish oval. The clay looks outstanding.
A very nice oval from Matt Ouwinga’s collection. Nicey nice patina!
This piece from Yorozuen is typical of Syuzan glazed pots, I’ve seen several in this style, with this glaze, and a deep blue.
An atypically glazed Syuzan. The glaze looks to be similar to my drum above, although on a wider surface. Take note of the original color of the glaze, which can be seen on the drip on the inside. It’s counterintuitive, but the interior of pots patinates at a much slower rate than the exterior.
And we’ll finish up with a stepped foot rectangle with lip and lightly cut corners. Very nice…very easy too use, like all Syuzan pots. Practical and elegant, well made though rarely showy, which, interestingly, makes them most suitable for show.
I have a few Shuzan pots that I was able to acquire from Nakayama Suisho, my sensei in Japan. I would like to leave some of his comments about Shuzan Suzuki and his pots:
Shuzan was the best. His pots are the most valued and demand the highest prices among modern potters. He designed the bamboo band. Many potters have copied his designs and styles but they have not been able to duplicate his clay and colors. Shuzan pots are soft, porous and warm, yet the clay is strong. All Shuzan pots were hand made to order.
This isnt an unusual sentiment among lovers of conifers and Satsuki in Japan, that’s for sure. My friend Endo San(look back to the Bonsai Gardens of the Northeast posts) feels similarly about Syuzan. At Chase Rosade Bonsai Studio, we saw an old San Jose planted in a bamboo band pot, he pointed and I said “Syuzan!”. Sure enough, flip it over: teapot chop.