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Nakatsuka Takaya
Karatsu Exhibition Review



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Exhibition Review
Nakatsuka Takaya's Karatsu Exhibition
at Mishima Plaza Hotel
November 28 - December 5, 2000
Nakatsuka Takaya
Chosen-garatsu mizusashi

In Japan art exhibits are held in many locales unseen in the west. For example, department stores are a main venue for artists and they all inevitably have art gallery spaces. To show in one of the better department store's gallery is a goal of many artists and a sign of acceptance in the hierarchy of the Japanese art world.

Nakatsuka Takaya
Nakatsuka Takaya

Other places that artists exhibit include temples, private homes, and hotels. In Mishima many artists want to show in the gallery located on the first floor of the Mishima Plaza Hotel. That's where Karatsu potter Takaya Nakatsuka recently exhibited.

Nakatsuka fires a traditional Korean anagama in the Izu peninsula town of Naka-Izu; he's been there since 1982. He's not a nationally recognized potter but has a loyal local following that turned out for his Mishima exhibition. Naka Izu is about an hour south of Mishima. Nakatsuka works in most of the Karatsu styles, E-garatsu, Chosen- garatsu, Kuro-garatsu, and Madara-garatsu. His work is very straight-forward, not terribly inspired, but good down-to-earth works that are a joy to use.

Many of the chadogu or tea utensils had sold including this Chosen-garatsu mizusashi (fresh water container) with its dynamic glaze flowing all around the body.

Nakatsuka Takaya
Kawakujira Chawan

A simple kawakujira (whale's lip) chawan felt very good in the hands with its swelling form and quiet tones. A nice contemplative space to hold and sip matcha from.

Most of the items that sold were shokki or tablewares and shuki or sake utensils.

These days in Japan that's what goes first at most exhibitions, particularly the shuki. Chadogu are a bit more expensive and in these recession days here people are careful with their purchases.



Nakatsuka Takaya
Work by Nakatsuka Takaya

I was very attracted to Nakatsuka's madara-garatsu with yellow hues from the ash flying in the kiln and settling on some of the pieces. There was one large bowl and a few guinomi (sake cups) like this.

Some of the work was a bit stale and not very good, like a few of the kogo (incense containers) but there were a few that were excellent. One was in the shape of a bamboo shoot and the other was in the shape of an eggplant. It is charming and perfectly matches the black glaze.

Nakatsuka Takaya
Large bowl

Nakatsuka also exhibited some Mishima style wares named after this town's shrine. Not many people living in Mishima even know this but during the Edo period a calendar at the shrine had patterns that closely resembled Korean Punch'ong wares.

Nakatsuka traces his roots back to Korea and his love for the understated world of Karatsu pottery (originally begun by Korean 'immigrants') comes out crystal clear in his work. He's probably not going to exhibit in prestigious Tokyo department store galleries but then again he probably wouldn't want to either. Keeping it simple, unpretentious, and earthy - that best describes Nakatsuka's pottery.

For another story about Nakatsuka Takaya, click here please.


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