He was born Ogiwara Katsuyoshi on December 8, 1937. At first, he went by the artist/kiln name Ogiwara Shouzan, then changed it to Joshu Shouzan. He finally settled on Joshu Katsuyama, which is great for us because there are just too many Shouzan around and it gets confusing.
He was always an enthusiastic and talented artist, and when he decided to make his own shohin bonsai containers, he taught himself sometsuke(blue underglaze painting) and akae(red overglaze enamel painting). He began painting ceramics in his own studio in 1975.
His style of landscape and figure painting is heavily influenced by the Nanga style of painting from Southern China, as was Fujikake Yuzan(see previous article on blog). This leads many to think Katsuyama are Yuzan derivative, but really they’re contemporaries and both Chinese derivatives. The style can be slightly cartoonish, but is charming in its own unique way. His go-sai paintings are especially nice in this style, with some even rivaling the work of Yuzan, who is considered, along with Gekkou, to be the best of his generation. In addition to a variety of painting styles(sometsuke, akae, go-sai) Katsuyama is known for underside painting details on his pieces. Works without painting on the bottom are considered lesser pieces.
Considering that the prices of Katsuyama’s work versus stylistically similar artists like Yuzan are a third or less of the cost, this artist definitely belongs in the Bang For Your Buck Potters category. For a few hundred dollars, rather than a grand or two, you can acquire a container for your shelf or your Shohin bonsai that is worthy of admiration. They also retain value, and are always easy sells.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my article on Joshu Katsuyama, he of so many names! Katsuyama is the first painter in my Bang for You Buck artists series, painted containers often being much more expensive than similar grades of glazed and unglazed bonsai pottery. But there are artists out there like Katsuyama that are affordable if you look! Many more Bang for Your Buck articles coming in the future featuring potters every enthusiast can afford!
I've been collecting Japanese Bonsai pots for a few years, and feel that the famous, and some of the lesser known but great Japanese pot artists could do with a little more writing and exposure in English.
Additionally, this blog will feature My own And others bonsai for discussion.
The purpose of this blog is to further knowledge of Japanese pottery and Japanese style bonsai. If you have any questions about Japanese bonsai pottery, or would like to acquire pots by some of the potters presented in the blog, feel free to email me at