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Kawaguchi Jun
Contemporary Ceramics



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Kawaguchi Jun Exhibition
Kandori Gallery, Tokyo
December 2001

Kawaguchi Jun

In the recent issue of the popular quarterly TOHJIRO, a panelist of four yakimono experts took on the theme of the Juyo-Mukei-Bunkazai, popularly known as Ningen Kokuho or Living National Treasures. I sent out a simple outline of the discussion in my email newsletter but one name I didn't mention was that of Kawaguchi Jun.

Click Image for Larger Photo

Piece by Kawaguchi Jun
Large Bowl

Pieces by Kawaguchi Jun
Various Bowls

Pieces by Kawaguchi Jun
Various Boxes

Pieces by Kawaguchi Jun
All His Pieces

Pieces by Kawaguchi Jun
Round Boxes

Pieces by Kawaguchi Jun
Ceramic Puzzle

He was selected by one of the panelists as being a possible contender for the LNT designation. I found this quite amusing, for Kawaguchi's work is so non-Japanese in a sense. (For details, please see my 1999 article on Kawaguchi Jun, written for The Japan Times).

This spring Kawaguchi will be returning to Kyoto as a professor at his alma mater. There he studied under Yagi Kazuo and Kondo Yutaka and now it will be his turn to show a new direction for ceramics to take. He's certainly fit for the task and I'm sure the "new breed" of Japanese these days will certainly appreciate his unique and genuine character, plus his gifted ceramic senses.

I recently caught up with him in Tokyo at Kandori, a fine gallery in the lobby of the Hotel New Otani. In fact, Kandori is one of Tokyo's premier spots to show ceramics. The room was aglow with color. I felt as if I had walked into a kid's birthday party! And there was Kawaguchi, ever the originator in fashion as well as ceramics. All aglow with happiness himself, his shirt had small pouches where he could display little knickknacks and in one was his own exhibition card. 

The room soon became full with his fans and there are many, particularly among the female crowd. One piece that caught my attention (see above) was his puzzle setting that when matched up creates a rather nice table centerpiece. Other items including small boxes for trinkets, tea pots, bowls, cups, and dishes. 

Kawaguchi is not for all and is definitely in a class all by himself. Yet that's why the panelist considered him as being a fine candidate for the Living National Treasure designation. After all, many LNTs of the past were in their own league and wouldn't it be nice if Kawaguchi joined them one day; he has expanded and created his own niche in the conservative Japanese pottery world and for that I too wear a smile, just like the one that Kawaguchi flashed for my camera. He's that special. 

written by Robert Yellin




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