Mukyo Gallery in Tokyo
Annex Fukujin Bldg. 5F
1-6-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00am to 7:pm
Closed Sunday and Holidays
Pieces by Potter Ito Tadashi
In the neon world of Ginza, one of Tokyo's fashionable districts, is the quiet shibui (refined) world of Gallery Mukyo. Mukyo literally means 'dream-state' and was an artistic name of the late and great Kitaoji Rosanjin (1883-1959). Rosanjin took this name in his later years after obtaining a piece of calligraphy by the Zen monk Muso Soseki (1275-1351) that had two kanji on them -- mu and kyo.
Rosanjin felt that artists must have a dream, of something different and better -- a utopian place. Such was how Rosanjin also felt about his country manor in Kamakura. Further, mukyo implies that a fine thing has no boundary. A wonderful Chinese proverb encapsulates this meaning:
A fine thing has no border.
It is irrelevant who made it, when or where.
A fine thing stands on its own.
Gallery Mukyo feels like it's its own small uptopia. Quiet, refined, and elegant without being pretentious. The layout is simple - white walls and old Korean furniture add the mood. A small back corner room has the feeling of a chashitsu (tea room) and is a special place to view the art that gallery owner Tsukada Haruyoshi might bring out. In his own words he says:
My own philosophy is that through the careful harmonizing of the antique with the contemporary, profound pleasure may be achieved. Thus I have chosen to call my gallery Mukyo.
Tsukada is a rare man in Japan these days. His impeccable sense for the arts is quite moving. His thoughts have been essayed in a wonderful series which appeared in a leading fashion magazine along with photos of various art objects all produced by him. At a recent event I attended, the celebrated Kyoto ceramic artist Fukami Sueharu mentioned to me how those Tsukada articles must be made into a book - such are his profound senses. Of course, the humble Tsukada will always downplay his achievements, as it should be in the mukyo realm. Tsukada also handles works other than pottery (yet he is strong in Rosanjin)l, including paintings, lacquer, and tea utensils (such as tea scoops).
When I paid a visit recently it was to see the current exhibition of Ito Tadashi, a potter based in Iwate Prefecture (see above and below photos of his work). Ito's work follows on the path of the genius of Kamoda Shoji (1933-1983), who also worked from Iwate in his later years and was a major figure in 20th century Japanese pottery.
Ito's work has clean lines like Kamoda's and uses the same rough Iwate Tono clay. His senses are also sharp, like that of a sixth century Sueki potter - his work often has the tense lines of ancient Sueki wares. It perfectly matches the subdued world of Buddhist beauty that Tsukada loves.