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2002 Newsletter Archive



                   Written by Robert Yellin

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November 2002


Exhibits, Museums, Awards

-- The Japan Traditional Arts and Crafts Exhibition
-- Review of Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu
-- Exhibitions and On-Line Photos
-- Awards

The Japan Traditional Arts and Crafts Exhibition
The annual Nihon Dento Kogei Ten (Japan Traditional Arts and Crafts Exhibition) is held at Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo at the end of September through early October before it makes its way around the country. After Tokyo it travels to Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Ishikawa, Okayama, Tottori, Kagawa, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Sendai. All of that will take until February of next year.

The opening essay in the deluxe color catalog reads:

"THE CONCEPT: Japan has one of the world's greatest traditions of craftsmanship. Tradition is alive; while maintaining the intrinsic qualities, it undergoes an unceasing evolution. Traditional Craft Arts are not mere copies of previous works made faithfully following the existing techniques. Tradition is the basis of art craft, and it is our duty to learn it well, further refine the excellent skill that has been handed down through many generations, and create new works suitable to the modern living."

In 1950, the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties came into being, and since then the Japanese government has been protecting craft techniques of particular high historical and/or artistic value. In accordance with this policy, the Japan Traditional Crafts Exhibition has been held annually since 1954. The exhibits, classified into seven categories of ceramics, textiles, lacquer, metalwork, wood and bamboo crafts, dolls and miscellaneous, are selected through rigorous examination from the works submitted by many artists. We are pleased to present the 49th Exhibition in the hope that it will be viewed by many people, for both enjoyment and critical comments, and make contribution to the progress of art craft techniques of Japan." <end quote>

In the awards section, only one ceramic artwork was selected. The Asahi Newspaper Award went to Takegoshi Jun for his stylized depiction of three Japanese crested Ibises in aquamarine overglazed enamels on a large platter. Takegoshi works out of Teraimachi, Ishikawa, which is the home to Kutani wares. He studied with his father Taizan and also with Kitade Fujjio, the latter's influence coming out in most of Takegoshi's work.

As always, a fine catalog is available, showing all 756 works in color, of which 275 are of ceramic works. The exhibition is in Okayama at the prefectural museum until December 1st. From there it goes to Shimane (12/4-23), Kagawa (1/4-19, 2003), Hiroshima (1/22-2/11), Fukuoka (2/13-18) and finishes in Sendai (2/25-3/2). Let me add that, if you've never seen this exhibition in person or in photos, it is well worth it. However, much of the work by certain potters is rehashed year after year and it becomes boring and contrived. Not to be of concern though, there is always something that sparkles.

Review of Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu
"The Legacy of Modern Ceramic Art, Part 1: From Artisan to Artist, The Evolution of Japanese Ceramic Art" is on at the new Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu Prefecture.

The museum, which opened Oct.12 (2002), is located in the Ceramics Park, Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture. Set in the side of a hill, the complex was designed by famed architect Arata Isozaki and is possibly one of the finest ceramic museums in the world. Natural lighting, large halls, and fine Belgian-made display cases create the perfect ambience for enjoying the treasures on display. I must add that there are two museums in the complex and one is offering a look at award winners for the "Mino International Ceramic Competition." If time allows, I do recommend walking through, yet I also must say that I couldn't get out of the industrial design ceramic section fast enough. Over 130,000 people walked through the Mino exhibition within twenty-four days! Some of the award winners can be viewed here:

The legacy exhibit is a must for any ceramic enthusiast wanting to see the shift from large export Meiji wares flowing into subdued Tea wares, and then into avant-garde modernism that started in the 1950s. A virtual Who's Who of the last hundred years of Japanese ceramics -- with the noticeable exception of Tokuro Kato and Rosanjin Kitaoji -- the exhibition winds gracefully from room to room always surprising the visitor with the changes in display rooms. Magnificent ! Highlights include some fine Meiji-period porcelains, a Kenkichi Tomimoto masterpiece jar in overglaze gold and silver, Mineo Okabe's mystical celadons, a rare look at Kazuo Yagi's groundbreaking "The Walk of Mr. Zamza" (1954), and a broad scan of modern sculptured forms. A fine bi-lingual catalog is also available. The Ceramic Park's web site in English can be viewed at:

Please look for more about the museum, with many photos, on very soon. The exhibition catalog is for sale here:

Exhibitions in Tokyo and Online
In Tokyo now at the Sogetsu Art Museum until December 21st (2002) is an excellent exhibition on Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988). The exhibition features 50 works and not since the major Rosanjin-Noguchi exhibition in 1996 has there been another look at Noguchi in Tokyo. I'm sure many of you already know about this visionary artist yet for those who may not here is an excellent web site to visit:

The 34th Nitten exhibition is also on in Tokyo until Nov.24 (2002) at the Tokyo Museum in Ueno Park. A simple web site explaining about Nitten can be seen here:

If you happen to like Imari and Nabeshima porcelains, some fine examples can be viewed from the Kurita Museum here:

A few examples are also to be found on the Toguri Museum's web page:

Awards - Hayashi Shotaro, Saki Kobu
Two new Intangible Cultural Properties for Toki city were recently named. Toki is the birthplace of Mino wares, which include Shino, Oribe, Ki-Seto, and Setoguro. Both of these artists' works have been offered on, as I am fond of both. One is dynamic and really slaps on the feldspar glaze while the other is a bit more subtle yet just as deep. The former is Hayashi Shotaro and the latter is Saki Kobu. If you search the archives on, you can see some of the works -- a Sakai or two might still be up on as well. Speaking of which, in this cultural season I've been seeing a lot of interesting work and acquiring some. I do hope you've been enjoying the recent updates -- there will be dozens more in the coming weeks. Please do have a look.

"The vessel in which soul making takes place is an inner container scooped out by reflection and wonder." Thomas Moore

Until the next time -- all the best from Mishima.
Robert Yellin


Copyright 2001

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