The Kyoto region has had more than its fair share of outstanding potters! In the last two posts, we looked at one of them, Tsukinowa Yusen, and we’ve mentioned Ino Shukuho and Heian Tofujuki before, of course. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at another Kyoto native son: Takao Koyo.
Born in 1947, his given name is 塩貝研二(?Kenji Shiobai?). He began making bonsai pottery at the age 25, in 1972. His influences include Tofukuji, Yusen, and Wakamatsu Aiso. He is self taught as a potter, and as such his work resembles more the work of his idols, than of a master he apprenticed under, like many other painters and potters.
His style is varied, from single color, pure, glazed classics, to interesting new forms, and, of course, his more recent painted pieces.
Two photos of Takao Koyo. The first is an old image, taken sometime before 1990, and is from the deluxe Japanese pottery encyclopedia, “Bijutsu Bonkei”. The second is Takao Koyo today, posing with his shohin display at a show.
Now, on to the pots!
We’ll begin with a painted piece, following a theme. In the last post we Showed a collaborative pot from Kutani Ikko and Yusen, first today, is a collaborative pot from Ikko and Takao Koyo. The pot work from Takao Koyo is excellent, highly detailed, highly individualistic. Compare the painting work from the Ikko in the previous post, and it’s easy to see why I think the Yusen co-op piece is early work!
Two sides of a yellow glaze cut corner rectangle with interesting feet and inset landscape windows in sometsuke blue. Clearly Yusen influenced painting style, from the boater looking off to the moon in the distance to the horse and rider landscape scene on the other side…to say nothing of the yellow glaze with inset windows!
From the corner, a very detailed tallish square. Note the figure on the left looking up toward the moon, and the equestrian scene on the right, more examples of Yusen’s influence.
We saw this one in the last post, a copy of a famous Yusen, with a few details changed for a personal touch. The detail in this pot is striking, with this quality of work, it won’t be long before Takao Koyo pots fetch the prices of Gekkou and Yuzan. At the moment, a Takao Koyo goes for around half of one the contemporary big 2!
Takao Koyo seems to favor window landscapes, which is good, as his glaze skill is every bit as nice as his painting. This piece, with it’s pinkish glaze and landscape, would be interesting to use with a mayumi, with it’s pinkish flowers about to pop, I think.
A darker blue glazed landscape window pot in footed mokko shape. The go-sai painted landscape is superb, with very fine line brushwork and great detail to the weeping willow. The feet are also very nicely done: unlike some painters, who excel at painting but lack craft with glaze and clay work, Takao Koyo excels at all three.
Another Yusen homage piece, featuring birds frolicking in a pasture. I really like simple designs like this, they are easy to use in shohin display and yet call to mind a setting very easily. The feet are especially nice.
A five color piece in a footed mokko shape. The painting is this piece is especially spartan for Takao Koyo, and very nice, it manages to be detailed and colorful without being cartoonish, like many five color pots. The second image shows Takao Koyo’s two Marks and the underside of the pot.
A swirling glazed pot in gray and white from my collection. I make no secret of my love for interesting, swirling glazes: these are a little more unusual from Takao Koyo, who tends to favor bold, bright single color glazes.
A small pair of Takao Koyo pots from my collection. The ultra shallow greenish grey glazed on the right came with a box, unfortunately it’s unsigned. The crackle cream glaze on the left is very nice, I’m a big fan of crackle glazes.
Another interestingly glazed soft rectangle. Glazes like this are hard to pull off, and are either outstanding, like this piece, or downright ugly. The harmony between the many different colors is very nice.
A banded soft rectangle yellow glazed pot with cut feet. I love pure, bright color yellows! You don’t see them in use enough in shohin displays is the states(but then again, you don’t see many great shohin displays in the west, period).
A really nice oribe glazed tall cascade with swirling colors. The detail in the feet of this 6 sided pot is especially nice.
A single color red glazed pot with cut corners and feet. Red glazes are tough to use, but look quite nice on the pottery shelves!
An interesting small blue with white speckles. Very nice glaze to this small pot, the deeper blue and white would contrast well with a tree with red berries or flowers.
An interesting purplish glazed pot. I really like single colored glazes in unique colors like this one.
Shohin Bonsai In Takao Koyo Pots
Asiatic Jasmine in a red glazed mokko shape. What did I say about red glazed pots?! They look especially nice with species with very dark green leaves and darker trunks.
All of the photos today not cited as coming from Koju-en come from Takao Koyo’s own excellent blog of bonsai and bonsai pottery, check it out to see more of his work:
Takao Koyo Blog
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the work of Takao Koyo today. Up next, a little post about a black pine I worked on Saturday with Bjorn Bjorholm, and another “Pots From My Collection Post”. Thanks for reading!