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After a half century in the field, Kawase Shinobu is now regarded as Japan’s most outstanding artist working within the ancient tradition of celadon. In this latest dazzling body of work, Kawase moves beyond the ancient Song Dynasty models and showcases his brilliance on the wheel, paired with an unrivaled command of celadon glazes in a range of luscious and delightfully surprising colors. Having represented Kawase for decades, and witnessed his development and artistic growth, Joan B Mirviss LTD is thrilled to present thirty-five works that he created for his latest show that irrefutably declares his mastery of celadon.
Known as seiji-sensei or "Master of Celadon" in Japan, and with a comparably devoted international following, Kawase Shinobu (b. 1950) stands apart as an artist honoring the historic precedents of celadon while pushing its limits beyond any other living artist in the medium. Flawlessly elegant, his works have an easy perfection that belie the formidable challenges of a notoriously difficult firing and glazing process. He has captivated a worldwide audience with his successful fusion of contemporary forms and ancient techniques in precise, jewel-like vessels astounding to behold.
For this exhibition, Kawase frames his illustrious career in four parts that mirrors the structure of Chinese poetry: Introduction, Development, Turn, and Conclusion (kishōtenketsu). During the "Introduction" phase when he met Joan Mirviss nearly forty years ago, he sought to emulate the classical forms and styles of the Song Dynasty; the subsequent "Development" phase was marked by a creative restlessness in which he looked to Nature for inspiration, and the resulting works played with asymmetry in form.
This exhibition features works from what Kawase deems his "Turn" and "Conclusion" phases, presenting teabowls and incense burners in brilliant colors alongside recent work in classic celadon seiji (blue). The "Turn" phase was defined by color, a world he entered on the occasion of a specially commissioned birthday present for Joan in red celadon. Though never having created such a work before, he succeeded after a great struggle, sparking a new approach to his art. His exploration into a vast array of original colors, including his signature "kingfisher celadon," culminated in his enji works, a lychee-inspired blush celadon that merges red and green in a seamless gradient reminiscent of ripening apples.
After 40 years, Joan Mirviss has seen all my phases and witnessed my evolution as an artist. I am greatly pleased to present to my audience in the West these latest works, so that they too may experience and understand the transformation of my work.
- Kawase Shinobu
As a fully mature artist, Kawase is satisfied with his foray into color, a world that he was tempted by, luxuriated in, and has now come full circle to his beginnings. His "Conclusion" phase is defined by refraining from excessive ornamentation. Seven years in the making, and eagerly anticipated by collectors and curators worldwide, this exhibition therefore not only looks back at the artistic journey of a master but also looks forward to what these works will reveal in the sure hand of an artist confident in his experience and perspective.
Kawase Shinobu: Mastery of Celadon opens on November 3 and runs through December 20, 2021.