I haven’t been able to find much biographical information on Kutani Ikko, but it seems no one else has any either, either in the West or in Japan! But, I have a little information, so here goes.
His given name is 宮保 英明(Eimei Kyuho?) and he’s been painting porcelain for over 25 years. Like most Kutani painters, most of his pots are collaboration pieces(Kutani ware works a little like a co-op, with people specializing in porcelain or painting), and he has collaborated with the likes of Tsukinowa Yusen and Takao Koyo. His work is breathtakingly detailed, and pretty rare, and commands some very high prices for an artist so new(relatively speaking) to the bonsai pottery game. Ive got some friends in Japan digging around for extra information for me, so I’ll repost this with an update soon.
Now, on to the pots!
Detail of base, showing Ikko’s characteristic signature style featuring animals. If you look closely behind the mouse you can see the stamp of the potter, a frequent collaborator with Ikko, “雅”-“Miyabi”.
Nice use of negative space in this 5 color rectangle. The very skillful use of color is incredibly realistic. It’s pretty incredible how the details surrounding the negative space of the sea to the left create a great sense of depth out of bare porcelain!
We showed this pot in our post on Tsukinowa Yusen. A Yusen-Ikko collaborative pot. From the images above, it’s easy to see why I think this piece is very early work from Ikko, although very late pottery work from Yusen.
Four distance detail views. In my opinion, a great painted pot should have a different directionality in either side, as this one does. In each image, we can see good use of both detail and negative space.
Three views of a 5 color overglaze enamel round with children. The details to the children are especially well rendered in vibrant 5 colors. Comparing this to the popular children’s motifs used by Ishida Shoseki, we can see that Ikko stands far above in painting skill!
3 detail views from the corners, and the base, showing Ikko’s animal signature, signed turmeric cloth, and box. In the details, we can see how incredibly well rendered and detailed both the figures and the landscape are! I think in images like this, it’s easy to see why Ikko’s style and incredible skill is often compared to Yusen.
And we’ll finish up today with views all four sides of an impressively detailed 5 color rectangle. The use of white in the robes of the figures is interesting, I’m not sure I’ve seen this done often in overglaze. The scenes themselves, of Lao Tzu and his pupils reclining near a mountain stream, show great depth and realism, one can almost hear the waterfall!
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these images from master contemporary painter Kutani Ikko! Thanks for reading, up next I’ll finish up the big three potters with a post on Heian Kozan!