For this section, I have to give a shout out to Fujikawa Koukaen apprentice and friend Dario Mader, who took excellent photos of this display of fantastic Kutani Ikko containers at this years Shunga Ten show and shared them with me for the post. There were lots of other photos floating about but Dario’s are detailed and crisp.
Thank you Dario!
Shunga Ten is one of the top 3 Shohin bonsai shows in Japan, and takes place in late March, in Osaka. It is the spring show to late Winter’s Gafu Ten and Fall’s Shuga Ten. Shohin compositions are all about expression of the season, so the different shows are really quite interesting. In a given year you can often see the same, and the best, displays at Gafu, Kokufu, Shuga, and Shunga Ten and compare the displays with their appearance in different seasons.
Now….on to the pots! An overview of the display of 12 containers from Kutani Ikko and Kutani Ai at Shunga Ten. The reds are all Kutani Ikko and some of the blues are Kutani Ai. For more information on her, check out Part 2 of the post on the 10th Modern Bonsai Potters exhibit. Sizes, shapes, styles and color are all variable, creating an impressive and well balanced display. The balance in the display shows an interesting playfulness with symmetry: reds on one side, blues on the other, and a mix in the center. Ikko is as famous for his five color pots as any other, so this dichotomy of Ikko reds and Ai Blues is quite intentional on the part of the display creator. Demon footed Akae landscape round. Rectangle with lip, red landscape, and cut feet. Red dragon mokko with impressive arch feet detailing.Sometsuke landscape square. Mokko with lip and inset painted cloud feet with Akae cliff side landscape. A really interesting mokko with a river valley scene in red. Small sometsuke Oceanside landscape rectangle with cloud feet. Sometsuke landscape rectangle with lip and cloud feet. Purse or bag shaped round with lip, full cloud feet, and distant view sometsuke landscape. Square with lip, half-cloud feet, and sometsuke landscape with figure on Panel.Six sided container with small lip, chrysanthemum panel, sometsuke landscape, and full cloud feet. Small traditionally painted square with sometsuke landscape panel and geometrics.
A really fantastic display showing the talent of a contemporary painter whose work is rapidly increasing in popularity and value.
Another look at a Famous Collaboration
We’ve looked at this famous collaboration before, but for those just now coming on board with the site I thought we’d take another look, since it was recently offered for sale. A collaboration piece dating to the late 1980s: painted by Kutani Ikko and the body created by the greatest of all Japanese painters of bonsai containers, Tsukinowa Yusen.
Views of the container, from multiple angles: a small rectangle with typically Yusen flared feet and go-sai overglaze enamel. Yusen is considered the representative painter in the Japanese Bonsai canon. For more on his work, follow these links:
Detail views. The thick overglaze enamel and use of negative space and proportion creates a marvelously three dimensional image with movement and visual power. Yusen would have been in his early 80s when this piece was made, and Kutani Ikko just beginning his career as a painter.
From the opposite side, a calmer image and opposing directionality creates an impressively usable container.
A true masterwork and continuing evidence of Kutani Ikko’s greatness in the canon of Japanese Bonsai Container Painters; Yusen deigned to work with but a few painters and potters whose work he admired and respected.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this two part look at contemporary master Kutani Ikko! Up next we’ll take a look at the charming containers of Koito Taizan, stay tuned and better yet, subscribe!
Thanks for reading!