To see my full article in collaboration with All Nippon Airways please go here.
Japanese ceramics expert and gallerist Robert Yellin once told me that “ceramics are like living creatures”. Indeed, when on one late autumn afternoon I was walking around his Yakimono gallery in Kyoto, located in an old sukiya style townhouse, I felt that the objects around me were alive and breathing. They were all kinds of shapes, colours and sizes: earthen Bizen ware, large tsubo jars, bright turquoise porcelain vases and modest Raku tea bowls — each and every one of them with its own story, born from earth and fire and carefully moulded by human hands.
“Japanese pottery is an insular world that dates back to the beginning of mankind’s first ceramic vessel and one that flourishes to this day in flair and colour. Perhaps no other land has the depth, variety and cultural support of pottery as Japan”, writes Robert Yellin in his article. Thanks to a long and rich history, the magical world of Japanese ceramics encompasses a wide range of styles; yet it is the simple, rustic pieces that first made me fall in love with this craft.
Introduced to tea ceremonies in the 15th century by Zen monk Juko Murata, wabi-sabi aesthetics, or, finding beauty in imperfection, is an important aspect of Japanese culture, aesthetics and arts. Celebrated by ceramic artists for centuries, the wabi-sabi tradition has been continued by the new generation of contemporary artists, evolving in line with modern life and culture. With worldwide exhibitions from Kazunori Hamana and Yuji Ueda (and curated by Takashi Murakami), and fashion collaborations like the recent Loewe and Takuro Kuwata association, Japanese ceramics are living a Golden age. An impossible mission to choose a limited selection from so many, here are a few contemporary Japanese ceramic artists to watch.