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Review of Hiruco Exhibition
Nakamura Kokodo Gallery
Dec. 9 to 16, 2001
Japan is a land of ancient myths and Gods. In the Kojiki, Japan's oldest chronicle, there is one god named Hiruco. Hiruco was born from the gods Izanagi-no-Mikoro and Izanami-no-Mikoto. Yet since he was born without any bones he was cast out into the ocean at age three. Somehow he returned to land and was cared for by one Ebisu Saburo.
He overcame many hardships and later became the god Ebisu who is one of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin) of Japan. He's also God of the morning sun and guards the health of little children, as does the god Jizo. For more on Ebisu, please see this outside site.
The world of Japanese pottery is also filled with legendary figures, such as Toshiro and Rosanjin, who overcame many hardships to become the pillars of today's ceramic success. Maybe the current affairs of the world, and Japan's, made Bizen's Kakurezaki Ryuichi choose Hiruco as the theme for his recent exhibition in Tokyo. To overcome and create what flows from the heart.
It was quite a magical setting Kakurezaki and architect Takayama Fujio created at the Nakamura Kokodo Gallery. The room was dimly lit and each piece was highlighted in soft, warm lighting like an actor on a stage. I didn't want to spoil that ambience with a camera flash so many of the shots here were taken in the natural lighting. A large wall installation was especially built for the exhibition that had small windows where a single piece sat glowing in the amber light.
Upon entering the gallery I was met by a row of five pieces all with cylindrical bodies set on a wide base with attached appendages at the head. They were like a receiving line for all guests during the one-week exhibition.
In the corner sat one piece with a flowing top that reminded me of a dolphin leaping from the water (below photo).
Around the bend on pedestals sat one piece each as mesmerizing as the next. Again, they had powerful cut bases, long mid sections and horizontal, curling, or curvy heads.
Kakurezaki's work is unlike any other ever seen in the thousand-year old history of Bizen and really is a fresh wind for this ancient tradition. Others think so as well for on opening day there was a line of fifty folks waiting to be purchase his work.
A spiral staircase cut through the center of the gallery and this is where the wall installation stood next to.
As one descended the stairs small windows encased Bizen koro (1st photo below) as well as a few Oribe (2nd photo below) and others with a white glaze over a gray body (3rd photo below).
They all were simply fantastic. The only fault I could find was that one or two felt a bit top heavy like they might topple over. Of course none did. The only toppling being done though was by the mind working on placing Kakurezaki's work into the framework of Bizen's conservative ways. For some it can't be done. They would much rather have a Momoyama-period-based shape and that is fine I must say. There are some very fine Bizen potters who do the ancient forms with vigor and substance. It's all a matter of konomi or taste.
And it seems that no other Bizen potter matches the konomi of these times with the originality and flair shown by Kakurezaki Ryuichi. One day, if the gods of Japan are in his favor, and I think they are, he too will become the stuff that legends are made of.
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