There were many other artists in this year’s exhibition that deserved note(in fact all of them were excellent). But my time is limited, so here are the entries that most caught my eye.
If you’d like to see the rest of the entries, and read a little more in depth about the artists in this year’s show, this is the Japanese Shohin Bonsai Association’s page for the exhibit:
Special thanks, Again, go out to Mark and Rita Cooper, Miyazato Rintaro, Koji Yoshida, Dario Mader, and Haruyosi for allowing the use of their images. Thanks Once Again!
As mentioned in the Part 1, i had another friend whose work was accepted in the exhibit. Ruban Yu is from Taiwan and has been making ceramics for Bonsai since 2008, and painting containers since last year. I’ve followed his painting progression from the beginning, avidly. His work is already excellent for such a short time, and shows great promise for the future. Stay tuned for a full post about Ruban and his work in the near future!
Kutani Ai also showed 5 pots. Excellent detail to these sometsuke pieces. Really fine lines and brushwork. It’s interesting to note that all are appropriately blue(Kutani Ai’s(藍) artist name means “Indigo”).
Multiple entries from Kyougoku Shiho, one of my favorite modern underrated painters. I did an article on him last year. His style is sometimes a little loud, but also very classical, and his dragon paintings are the best traditional Kyo-Yaki style dragons I’ve seen outside of the work of Tsukinowa Yusen.
Last up for painted pots, we have the entry from female painter and potter Ashikawa Tomoku, who signs her works Yamachi (山ち).
These were some of the most impressive pieces in the exhibition to me, as (see a pattern yet?) she has only been making and painting pots for 2 years. Not only are the pots themselves good: varied shape and form with clean lines, but the paintings are also pretty outstanding for the time involved in BOTH fields. Either one of those skills normally takes many years to master…this is one to watch for in the future.
Of the relief and figure carvers of the current generation, Oya Tadashi(大矢 忠) is the Sruga Yamasyou to Mashi Furumoto’s Zeshin. Tadashi took home top honors in the 2011 Exhibit, and his pots have become highly desirable and collectible since.
The unglazed entry from The Glazed Category Silver award winner Kyushi Jinbo(Jinkozan). These pots were interesting to me, a bit like classical western wooden planters, but in a good way. Unusual colors as well.
The entry from Tani Ranzan. I’m placing it here in the unglazed section because the orchid pot style cascade, while excellent, is really nothing unusual from this renaissance potter. The unglazed figurines, on the other hand…..
Here is where the exhibition got really interesting in my opinion. There were 4 artists who are students of Bushuan represented, and many of the other selections reflect a similar, unique, Tofukujiesque style of warm, odd, and one off glazes.
But before we look at those….
This Monkey has Stone Cahones. This is the glazed container entry from Andrew Pearson. Not only did Andrew have the fortitude to enter the competition, and the talent to win, but he had the brass to enter in two categories. Well Done, once again Andy. Very nice and clear single color glazes showing a brightness not often seen in Western bonsai containers.
And If you decide on a new line of “Stone Cahones” pots, Andy, feel free to the name, just send me one, mate.
The entries from yet another favorite of the blog, Shigeru Zyubei. Zyubei was the first pretty well unknown potter I discovered when I started researching Japanese Pots, and since then his work has garnered numerous accolades, including the Gold prize for Glazed containers in last year’s exhibition. The multicolored thickly glazed yellow was one of my personal favorites from this show.
More on Shigeru Zyubei here:
Glazed pots by Shigeru Zyubei
Glazed Pots by Zyubei 2
Another of the entries from Shigeru Fukuda’s students, a trio from Nanbu Yoshiaki(南部 孝明). Not only are the glazes pretty spectacular(and like the Award Winning entry from Jinkouzan, clearly reminiscent of the teachers’ work) but the carving, clay work, and detailing is very good. Another fresh name to watch closely.
Another trio of very uniquely glazed pieces that show an interesting variety of form. This entry is by Fukuda Tadahiro, who goes by the name Koto Chukan(古都忠寛). Excellent antique mirror shaped pieces and very rich, deep, multilayered glazes. The red piece is definitely the best red in this exhibition(or maybe just my personal favorite).
It seems there was a bit of a trend going for students of Fukuda Shigeru, as all included red glazed pieces in their entries. This display from Tomatsuri Isamu is no exception. Very nice work showing a subtle elegance.
The entry from Horie Bikoh. Love them or hate them, one thing you can’t disagree with is that Bikoh has his own unique style. His overglaze enameled pieces are unmistakable, and his clean, sharp clay work is excellent, as you would expect from an apprentice of Heian Kouzan.
Last but not least:
We have this entry from female potter and painter Koide Michiko, who goes by the name Ma(ま). Though it properly belongs up top with the Painted Containers, there is enough to say about this thoughtful entry that it gets a category all it’s own. The artist is a fashion illustrator and designer in Tokyo, and has been creating Mame bonsai and ceramics since 2011.
The theme of the piece, “Coudenhove-Kalergi Photon,” is a reference to Mitsuko Aoyama, one of the first Japanese to immigrate to Europe, in the late 1800s. She married Austrian nobility, Count Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi, in Tokyo, in 1896.
The corset, when thus looked at contextually, becomes much more than just a pretentious affected piece. As a historical figure, Mitsuko Aoyama is an interesting choice for subject matter, especially for bonsai ceramics. Japanese art in general, and Bonsai Ceramics in particular, have a long and storied tradition of drawing direct inspiration from legends, other famous artworks, and historical figures, and creating homages to them. For example, Yusen’s interpretation of Ando’s 53 Stations from the last post, or the anthropomorphic animals of the Choju Giga and Fox’s Wedding we’ve seen from many artists in past articles(and in several of the entries above!). In light of that very Japanese tradition, I see this entry as a modern interpretation of classical homage.
A popular Memoir was published about the countess, a musical was produced as well, and even in Manga, she stars in the book Lady Mitsuko. Note the crane on the fan on the above poster, and on the pots.
Putting aside the seemingly Avant Garde nature of this entry, the pottery and painting work is superb. While not my favorite entry from this exhibition, it certainly ranked, and it’s undeniably the most thought provoking and challenging.
What would you plant in a corset container? I’d go with a fern shitakusa….ferns were all the rage in Europe in Mitsuko’s time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the 10th Shohin Potters Exhibition!
If you’re in or near any of these areas, I’ll be giving a lecture on Bonsai Containers at the Atlanta Bonsai Society on Saturday, the 24th, at noon, The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York in Rochester, Tuesday the 27th, the Birmingham Bonsai Society February 9th, and the Greater Louisville Bonsai Society February 16th. Come out and see me if you can for a presentation on the History, Appreciation, Classification, and Identification of Bonsai Ceramics! I will have containers for sale and a high quality container will be raffled off at each location.
Thanks for reading!