There are several contemporary painters of Bonsai pottery whose works are celebrated and lauded, and rightfully so: Itou Gekkou, Fujikake Yuzan, and Tsukinowa Shousen, just to name a few. But, to my eye, no painter quite comes close to the greatness of Tsukinowa Yusen more than Kutani Ikko.
Like most painters of Kutani origin, Ikko works often in go-sai(5 color) paintings, but his best work, in my opinion, is his Akae(red) painted pieces. For me, he is perhaps the greatest painter of Akae pots of all time, surpassing even Yusen. If you’re looking for a painter whose work will be valued in the coming decades like Yusen is valued today, look no further, this is your guy.
In the Table of Contents you’ll find two previous articles on Kutani Ikko, if you’d like to see more of his work.
Now, on to the Pots!
A go-sai piece featuring a significant amount of Red. The detail views show the incredible brushwork and depth that Kutani Ikko is known for. The well placed blue highlights really make the figures come to life. This is a collaborative piece with Heian Chikuho, which is the hanko to the left of the Turtle with Ikko’s signature.
Multiple views of a 5 color pot with a style I think is unique to Kutani ware, and mastered by Ikko. The paintings appear quite literally three dimensional, much more like an oil painting than the line paintings common from other painters. The sense of depth and reality to the scenes is impressive, and, as always, the detail is outstanding.
How about a red? This pot is a great example of why I think Kutani Ikko may be the greatest painter of Akae containers of all time. Both sides if the distant view seaside landscape show a fantastic use of negative space, while the sides are greatly detailed. Incredible brushwork, depth, and a great sense of loneliness…all with a single color. It’s tough to see in the bottom photo, but this piece is a collaboration between Kutani Ikko and Eimei Yozan.
Another red, this one an incredibly detailed figure painting of a dragon on a mokko shape pot. The detail is really quite striking. Perhaps my favorite part of this pot is the unique painting on the rim.
A small round with a rather impressionistic 5 color landscape. Compare the painting style in this piece to the traditional Kutani style above, and you can really start to get an idea of Kutani Ikko’s range.
Multiple views of a very small round with 5 color landscape and figure panels bordered by red geometrics. The hand for scale and the detail shots really gives you an idea of how incredibly detailed these pieces are for their size.
And we’ll finish up today’s look at Kutani Ikko with all four sides of this red painted oval with figures and near view landscape. To me, the subject matter in this piece is very Yusenesque, although the incredible detail is even more striking than much of Yusen’s work. Fantastic brushwork and interesting pastoral details make for a lovely piece that really illustrates Kutani Ikko’s skill with red.
I hope You’ve enjoyed todays look at fantastic contemporary painter Kutani Ikko! Thanks for reading!