MEET THE 2015 ARTPRIZE ARTISTS – PART 3

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now brings together twenty-five of the leading ceramics artists from across Japan. Most of these artists are widely recognized and critically acclaimed in Japan, few have exhibited here in the United States. This exhibition truly is a must see experience here at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park!

Continuing our series introducing you to the artists who are a part of our 2015 ArtPrize and fall exhibition, here are five more artists to get to know:

Naoto NakataTWINS – for Maple in Minneapolis – Vote Code 61572

TWINS - for Maple in Minneapolis by Naoto Nakata

TWINS – for Maple in Minneapolis by Naoto Nakata

Ado OdaGold and Silver Octagonal Ceramic Box “Bamboo Accent” – Vote Code 61503
“Toubako (a ceramic box) with bamboo design represented in gold and silver colored printed figures (over enamels).”

Gold and Silver Octagonal Ceramic Box "Bamboo Accent" by Ado Oda

Gold and Silver Octagonal Ceramic Box “Bamboo Accent” by Ado Oda

Nobuyuki OgawaPhantom – Vote Code 61018
“With the mental image of a flower as the motif a skeletonized thing was formed.”

Phantom by Nobuyuki Ogawa

Phantom by Nobuyuki Ogawa

Sayaka OishiAccessories – Vote Code 61360
“Whenever I create I always think about the ties between forms and accessories. I also try to make good use of the glaze which is original to ceramics. There are many animal and plant based accessories around the human in my work, but these all represent ‘greed’ and ‘nature’.”

Accessories by Sayaka Oishi

Accessories by Sayaka Oishi

Junji Setsu – Irosuminagashi “Moon Flower” – Vote Code 61791
“I imagined a beautiful picture in which the moonlight lights up the surface of water at night. This piece can also be seen as a flower, which is why I named it “Moon Flower”. The Irosuminagashi technique which I created myself makes it possible to capture one moment in nature. This seems to be connected with the fleeting beauty of life. It was created with the feel of the Japanese concept of beauty and nature. Irosuminagashi was created by myself and nature conversing and coming into harmony, and I think that the appealing part of this technique is that you can never make the same pattern twice.”

Irosuminagashi "Moon Flower" by Junji Setsu

Irosuminagashi “Moon Flower” by Junji Setsu

MEET THE 2015 ARTPRIZE ARTISTS – PART 2

For centuries, functional and decorative ceramic arts in Japan have been appreciated and collected across the globe. In many ways, Japanese ceramics have become iconic references for Japanese culture at large. Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now illustrates that ceramics are a living and expanding tradition, and many of today’s leading artists are highly inventive, exhibiting great creativity in form, content and technique.

Continuing our series introducing you to the artists who are a part of our 2015 ArtPrize and fall exhibition, here are five more artists to get to know:

Yucho Kobayashi – Shigaraki Rippled Large Jar – Vote Code 61968
“As someone who actually makes Shigaraki pottery using the long-standing traditional anagama kiln, I tried to fire an organic large jar with a rippled pattern in an anagama kiln with innovation in mind.”

Shigaraki Rippled Large Jar by Yucho Kobayashi

Shigaraki Rippled Large Jar by Yucho Kobayashi

Atsuko Kubota – Pale-blue Glazed Geometric Patterned Platter – Vote Code 62522
“The geometric pattern of this blue porcelain (pale-blue glaze) platter is a continuous structure of a repeating pattern of squares rotated twice. Over the spread latticework, squares open vertical and horizontal gaps, regularly overlapping, the lattice under the arrangement of the the squares does not overlap at an angle. The process of arranging distinct geometric patterns is the same abstract expression as a music composer. Finding a new geometric effects is a great pleasure. Although such designs are readily expressed in drawing, it is very difficult in pale-blue porcelain.”

Pale-blue Glazed Geometric Patterned Platter by Atsuko Kubota

Pale-blue Glazed Geometric Patterned Platter by Atsuko Kubota

Toru Kurokawa – Garden – Vote Code 61002
“This work was created in a primitive way, with the shape, structure, patterns, and the anagama kiln being brought into effect. I wish for people to rethink their ties with nature, and wonder about their identities as a race.”

Garden by Toru Kurokawa

Garden by Toru Kurokawa

Jun Matsumura – S.S.T.P. – Vote Code 61632
“A super flat era was the background for making the tea pot. This craft evolved alongside lifestyle. In the functional designs that are selected, I incorporate the expression of my modern life in the form.”

S.S.T.P. by Jun Matsumura

S.S.T.P. by Jun Matsumura

Chiyo Nagaoka – First Stage – Vote Code 61432
“Prologue of “the form of the vessel within me” that continues to move without having to stay. Wishes and prayers are pictured as if they are spun with thread.”

First Stage by Chiyo Nagaoka

First Stage by Chiyo Nagaoka

Meet The 2015 ArtPrize Artists – Part 1

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now is a highly unique exhibition bringing together 25 of the leading ceramics artists from across Japan. Although most are widely recognized and critically acclaimed in their native country, few have exhibited in the United States – making this a must see exhibition experience.

Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to the participating artists in their own words and showing you their works. All 25 masters participating in the exhibition are Japanese, making this the first all-national venue in ArtPrize history!

Kunihiro AkinagaMimesis – Vote Code 61089
“I use the bones of animals for my theme – decoration. I form and design the patterns on each bone and copy them on to a paper pattern and create them using the hand forming technique. After firing, I put all of the parts together in a skeletal structure. My image of decorations are the excess decorations of temples and churches – the view of the world between life and death. I also feel that by decorating, the truth of things gets hidden. For example, in our lives the packaging and decoration of our food diverts our attention from the death of animals. By using the concept of decorations you can find modernity even in something universal such as life and death.”

Mimesis by Kunihiro Akinaga

Mimesis by Kunihiro Akinaga

Tadami Hirota – Gold and Silver Colorful Bush Clover Pattern Small Container with Lid – Vote Code 61021
“The bush clover that sways in the wind appears often in “Manyoushuu”. I expressed lovely, beautiful curves in the form of a round container with a lid.”

Gold and Silver Colorful Bush Clover Pattern Small Container with Lid

Gold and Silver Colorful Bush Clover Pattern Small Container with Lid by Tadami Hirota

Masami HosokawaTake A Flight – flying form –  Vote Code 62521
“‘Flying’, ‘swelling’, ‘spreading’, ‘dreams’, ‘hope’, ‘the universe’, ‘infinity’ – I gave one form to all things that are positive.”

Take a Flight - flying form - by Masami Hosokawa

Take a Flight – flying form – by Masami Hosokawa

Tetsuya Ishiyama – Inlaid Colorful Earthenware Pot – Vote Code 61239
“By using an inlaid technique I created a geometric pattern, by which I expressed the stereoscopic effect of overlapping cloths.”

Inlaid Colorful Earthenware Pot by Tetsuya Ishiyama

Inlaid Colorful Earthenware Pot by Tetsuya Ishiyama

Seigo Kaneyuki – Band of Light  – Vote Code 61153
Created by its original technique called “Ligne Hotaru”, it has developed from the traditional Japanese technique “Hotarude”. Its delicate lines of light take us to the other side of everyday life.

Band of Light by Seigo Kaneyuki

Band of Light by Seigo Kaneyuki

 

 

Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan Exhibition Spotlight- Spring

Throughout the course of Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite works of art from the exhibition and providing a more in-depth look at some of our favorite pieces.

This week we’re featuring three remarkable pieces from Phase Two of the collection, which will be on display March 28-June 4, and is devoted to themes of spring:

Kitchen model

This meticulous work is on loan from the Museum of Omihachiman City—Grand Rapids’ Sister City in the Shiga Prefecture. It is a perfect scale model of a traditional Japanese kitchen and its wide range of instruments and utensils. Originally, it would have been commissioned by a wealthy merchant family for young children. More than simply a toy, it would have been essential to their success in future life. Note the complete mastery of numerous materials in wood, metal and ceramic, which replicate everyday objects in minute detail.

Miniature kitchen model
Shōwa Period, 20th Century
Wood, material, stoneware
Collection of Omihachiman City
Courtesy of The Museum of Omihachiman City

Koto Ware

Koto Ware, a highly refined form of ceramics from Shiga Prefecture, flourished in 19th century. The kiln where this nest box was created opened in 1842 in the city of Hikone, and produced luxury items until 1862. The delicacy and decoration of Koto Ware was the antithesis to the irregular shape and earthy colors and textures of Shigaraki pottery.

This multi-tiered stackable box was meticulously made and decorated by hand. The square shape and flat bottoms of each level would have been difficult to create and could only have been produced by an artist of the highest skill. It originally functioned as a type of luxury lunch box perhaps given as a royal gift and used only for special guests.

The namesake decorative elements of the peacock and peony are found across the exterior. Such forms were undoubtedly influenced by the art of China. So too, the use of porcelain with blue underglaze also evidences an interest in Chinese art and pottery.

Koto Ware, Nest of boxes with peacock and peony
Edo Period, 19th Century
Porcelain with blue underglaze
The Museum of Shiga Prefecture, Biwako-Bunkakan

Dainnichi Nyorai

This figure represents the central deity of Esoteric Buddhism. Simply put, he represents the Supreme Buddha seated atop the iconic lotus flower. Traces of gold leaf can be found across the surface of the cast bronze figure suggesting the prominence of the sculpture. An extremely rare loan from the Binman-ji Temple, this sculpture is among the oldest objects on display in this exhibition. Located in the rural city of Taga Town, this temple was one of the most visited and prosperous temples of medieval Japan (13th-16th century).

The firmly seated position and contemplative demeanor are iconic for Buddhist statuary. Although the body and floral form are decidedly iconic, there is a strong vertical structure to this composition. One can easily follow a visual central core that stretches from the conical headdress through the torso of the figure down to the pedestal upon which the Buddha rests. Such a strong central core grants the illusion of monumentality to the sculpture.

Dainichi Nyorai

Kamakura Period, 13th Century
Cast bronze
Collection of the Preservation Meeting of Binman-ji Temple’s Historic Relics and Culture
Courtesy of the Museum of Taga Town

Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan Exhibition Spotlight – Sculpture

Throughout the course of Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite works of art from the exhibition and providing a more in-depth look at some of these pieces.

This week, we’re featuring two pieces of sculpture from the collection:

Buddha at Birth

This rare sculpture from the 8th century describes the infant Buddha. According to tradition, the infant took seven steps from his mother, pointed to the heavens and declared he was venerable on both heaven and earth while under his feet lotus flowers bloomed. The sculpture describes a very young figure pointing to the heavens with his right hand and to the earth with his left hand; beneath his feet is a stylized representation of a lotus flower. Figures such as this were placed on display at festivals celebrating the Buddha’s birth on April 8. Then, it would have been surrounded by flowers and sweet tea poured over the figure. The latter possibly accounts for the surface colors seen today.  On loan from the Daiko-ji Temple, it is one of several Buddhist devotional figures and accessories which will be on display over the course of the exhibition.

Buddha at Birth
Nara Period, 8th Century
Cast bronze
Collection of Daiko-ji Temple
Courtesy of The Museum of Shiga Prefecture, Biwako-Bunkakan

Seated Senju Kannon

The ancient bronze shown above,Seated Senju Kannon, is on loan through the Kannon-ji Temple located on the shores of Lake Biwa in the center of the Shiga Prefecture. It represents the God of Mercy who, according to Buddhist beliefs, has the highest rank after the Buddha himself. The figure is described with multiple arms at his sides and multiple heads atop his head symbolizing a thousand armed and a thousand eyed deity capable of managing everything in the universe and able to save all situations in the world. A subject of great devotion, this deity also appears frequently in traditional paintings from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Careful observation of this bronze form reveals traces of gold leaf indicating the sculpture was at one time completely gilded. This is another of the several Buddhist devotional figures and accessories that will be on display over the course of the exhibition.

Seated Senju Kannon
Edo Period, 17th Century
Cast bronze
Collection of the Kannon-ji Temple
Courtesy of The Museum of Shiga Prefecture, Biwako-Bunkakan

Click HERE to learn more about our Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan exhibition.

Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan – Exhibition Spotlight

Throughout the course of Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite works of art from the exhibition and providing a more in-depth look at some of our favorite pieces.

This week, we’re featuring three bowls from the collection:

Shigaraki Ware, Tea Bowl Asanikeni by Ueda Naokata

This tea bowl was made by Ueda Naokato who is a specialist in tea ceremony ceramics. A leading master of the famed Shigaraki pottery, he is the fifth generation of his family to work in this tradition and is revered as a Shiga Prefectural Intangible Asset or Treasure. The earthen colors, highly textured surfaces and slightly irregular form epitomize the Shigaraki tradition. This vessel was made on a hand-propelled wheel and in a wood-fired kiln. The fingerprints seen on the interior base of this bowl are intentional. Works by Naokato have also been commissioned for use in the teahouse in the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. This particular vessel will be on display over the entirety of the exhibition.

Shigaraki Ware, Tea Bowl Asanikeni
Ueda Naokata (born 1927)
Shōwa Period, 1964
Stoneware
Courtesy of Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

Shigaraki Ware, Lozenge-styled vase with natural firing effect by Takahashi Shunsai

This vessel was made by Takahashi Shunsai, a specialist in ceramic vases and jars. Part of a family of potters, he is celebrated as a Shiga Prefectural Intangible Asset or Treasure. Although he initially follows traditional shapes, he has experimented with forms, firing techniques and natural glazes as a means of bringing the history of Shigaraki pottery into the modern age. The carefully marked glaze decoration on this vessel has not been painted, but results from the chemical reaction of wood ash across the surface of the clay and the controlled movement of air in the firing process. This particular vessel will be on display over the course of the exhibition.

Shigaraki Ware, Lozenge-styled vase with natural firing effect
Takahashi Shunsai (1927–2011)
Heisei Period, 1997
Stoneware
Courtesy of Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

Large crazed celadon bowl by Shimizu Uichi

Born into a family of potters in Kyoto, Shimizu Uichi was declared a Living National Treasure by the Japanese Government over the course of his extensive career.  He established a studio on the shores of Lake Biwa near the Shiga Prefectural Capital of Otsu in the 1970s. He is known for using clay from the site, which contains many fossils and shells, and for experimenting with iron glazing. The color, translucent quality and overall crackling effect epitomize his most celebrated works. Such crackling effects result from a carefully controlled cooling process for which the artist is most well known. This work of art will also be on display over the entire course of the exhibition.

Large crazed celadon bowl
Shimizu Uichi (1926–2004)
Shōwa Period, 1975
Stoneware with overglaze
Courtesy of Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan Exhibition Preview

Opening to the public on Friday, January 30, Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan is a unique partnership between Meijer Gardens and Shiga, Michigan’s sister state in Japan. The artistic and cultural traditions of Shiga Prefecture are among the most distinguished and profound in Japan.

Shiga

This exhibition will display more than 75 historical works of Japanese art aging back to the 8th century. Shigaraki pottery, delicate scrolls, screens, kimono, and works on paper and wood will all be on display and will change every two months through August. Changing the works on display allows protection of the artifacts as well as a new experience for our visitors throughout the winter, spring and summer.

Most of these rare works of art have never been seen outside of Japan, and this collection will not be on display anywhere else in the world. Many of the works are regional and national treasures! This exhibition highlights masterworks from the collections of: Museum of Shiga Perfecture, Biwako, Bunkakan; Museum of Modern Art, Shiga; Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park; and Omihachiman City Museums.  Additional works will be on loan from Daiko-ji Temple, Binmanjii Shiseki Bunka Hoshokaii, Taga City Museum, Kannon-ji Temple, Hando Shrine, and Saimyo-ji Temple.

Building on the more than 40-year sister-state relationship between the Shiga Prefecture and the State of Michigan, Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan will reflect on and celebrate the cultural richness of Japan in anticipation of the opening of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in June. All works shown have been selected by a joint committee of Shiga’s museum and state government officials along with experts from Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

Over the next few months, we will be sharing more in-depth information about the exhibition and the works of art that will be on display.

The “winter” portion of Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan will run from January 30—March 22. The exhibition will be temporarily closed from March 23-27 in order to change the artifacts that are on display. The spring display opens on March 28 and will run through June 4. We hope that you can join us for this wonderful and once-in-a-lifetime exhibition!