New and old stories about Japanese Crafts.
Award winning craftsman Ryuji Iwasaki was born in Osaka in 1980, where he still lives and works in his studio/home, shown below. The contemporary and simple design of the house tells us a lot about his unique point of view for the traditional crafts.
He has won more than a dozen crafts awards all over Japan.
“I create something from an undefined shape and make an object the user will find special and unique. I find great satisfaction in the bond this stimulates between the creator and the end user.”
I’ve always liked to make things since childhood, but not something standard or mass-produced like a plastic model. I’d rather make something without plans or instructions, which I can use to express my vision freely. I believe that is the key to becoming a potter.
When you see videos or photos of potters, they are turning the wheel. Some potters don’t like that part so much, but I really enjoy it. It takes me to new places while I create.
I think color is the most important element. The color of the ceramic is determined not simply by the type of glaze, but also by the proportion of the mixture, its flow, and firing. You become an alchemist by combining a very complex mix of all these elements and make one nuanced look. Therefore, I will spend the rest of my career searching for the various elements – call it a recipe if you like – on a quest for beautiful combinations of colors.
The most exciting moment during the creation process is when I open the kiln. Even if I have a very clear expectation of what I think the image may look like, I never know for sure if it turns out the way I expect. It goes the way I expected sometimes, and fails sometimes. But time to time, it turns out more than I was hoping for, and I fall in love with the exact work I made myself.
When I create something, I am always inspired and fascinated by the depth and beauty of Japanese traditional crafts and ceramics. I want the world to know and experience the depth and the charm that I cannot express by the words. It would be great if I can inspire the world through my work.
One of our favorite things always in New York is to visit art shows, and we met the new spring season this year with a very cool photography show held by AIPAD, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers.
The show this year was big and impressive. The location had moved from Park Avenue Armory to Pier 94, which made room for 115 galleries from around the world as well as 30 book sellers/publishers.
With the number of countries participating came a great variety of vintage to contemporary, classic to experimental with a vast array in terms of medium and techniques. Not surprising given the state of our current world, a great variety of the art displayed political messages. Some pieces, we don’t necessarily call photography, but related or derived. We were impressed by the potential of photography as art more than any of the shows we visited recently.
And of course, we were drawn to talented Japanese artists works. Here are a few that caught our eyes!
Particularly we had a great conversation with Ibasho from Antwerp, Belgium, which literally means “a place where you can be yourself.” They are collectors of Japanese prints turned dealers. We felt their love for Japanese photographers sensibilities and unique explorations.
One of the artists they presented was Motohiro Takeda, who is fascinated by camera obscura and the idea of being inside the camera. One of his series titled “Another Sun” is a dramatic, large scale print of an inverted sun, which started as a result of the fortuitous accidental representation of the sun on a piece of photographic paper on the wall of his apartment.
Here are some of the other artists with connections to Japan that we were also quite impressed by.
By the way, this was one of the most instagrammed booth at the show.
We just visited Yuken Teruya’s new show, The Simple Truth, at Josee Bienvenu gallery in NYC. Teruya is a New York based artist from Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan. His works utilizes ordinary objects to reveal underlying problems of our society.
One of his most recognized pieces is a series of paper cut-out trees that seem to be growing inside paper bags. These trees may appear fragile, but can also look as if they are supporting the bag. This symbolizes the full circle of a tree that became paper, and then a commercial bag, and then the bag symbolically returns to the original tree.
Here is the artist’s statement. "Uncovering small metamorphosis in familiar objects is an exercise which enables one to turn routine into moments of significance, making us more aware of the indefinite alterations in our surroundings."
Another exhibit showed a series of New York Times newspapers depicting tragedy or conflict around the world on their front pages. However, “growing” or “sprouting” out of the assorted troubling news were trees and flowers that had been laboriously cut from the photos on the front page and folded to stand up as if growing in a field or forest. These papers, which came from trees, were used to depict and report chaotic world events--but in the hands of Teruya, they became an intriguing garden of life emerging from tales of death and destruction.
There is also a series of newspapers from his hometown in Okinawa reporting on a massive local protest against the U.S. Air Force there -- with the theme “It’s about me, It’s about you. There is a truth bigger than geopolitics.” Stencil cut into each paper is a phrase, written in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, Georgian, English and Basque. Teruya has used Okinawan traditional patterns called Bingata Kimono to express his messages in the past. While it is talking about a long history of occupation and friction with Japan and USA, the art piece is calm and poetic.
In addition, his other work, Forest Inc, is also on view now at 601 ArtSpace here in New York until April 25.