As the capital city of Japan for over a thousand years, Kyoto was more than just its longstanding center of politics and power. Venerated as the heart of Japan's rich cultural heritage, Kyoto claims as its own many of today's top artists who found a natural home where living tradition endures, and where creating with one's hands using exceptional skill has been continuously nurtured and highly valued for centuries. These artists' creative lifeblood stems from the city itself, where aesthetics and beliefs intersect and ancient and modern coincide. Reflective of a unique environment in which artists of different backgrounds and interests are constantly intermingling and working side by side, the artworks from Kyoto are unmatched in their imagination, creativity, and technical excellence. This winter, Joan B Mirviss LTD celebrates the artistry of this eternal city of the East in Transcendent Kyoto.
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Marked by periods of flourishing production in different aesthetic styles, Kyoto’s cultural economy thrived under generous patronage from the gentry, and later, from a growing wealthy merchant class with discerning taste, in all kinds of arts: textile, lacquer, metalwork, painting, and ceramics. Some Kyoto families consider artistry their birthright, such as three generations of ceramic artists from the KONDŌ family, represented here: Living National Treasure KONDŌ Yūzō (1902-1985), KONDŌ Yutaka (1932-1983), and KONDŌ Takahiro (b. 1958). Each man embraced a different aesthetic from their direct familial predecessor, and the visual diversity is on full, sumptuous display.
But far from being stuffy traditionalists, Kyoto’s artists were also challenging accepted norms and creating new artistic movements in the modern era. The Sōdeisha Movement, which broke wide open ideas about functionality in ceramics, was founded in Kyoto by SUZUKI Osamu (1926-2001), YAMADA Hikaru (1923-2001), and YAGI Kazuo (1918-1979), among others, all of whose bold, defiant sculptural works are presented in this show.
Reflective of a unique environment where aesthetics and beliefs intersect and ancient and modern coincide, the artworks from Kyoto are unmatched in their imagination, creativity, and technical excellence.
In the early postwar period, Kyoto was the site of a groundbreaking ceramic arts degree program, spearheaded by the father of modern Japanese ceramics, TOMIMOTO Kenkichi (1886-1963). On display is his work and those of his many influential students, such as WADA Morihiro (1944-2008), KUMAKURA Junkichi (1920-1985), and KURIKI Tatsusuke (1943-2013). A consummate Kyotoite, MIYASHITA Zenji (1939-2012) was not only the son of a celebrated clay artist but also studied with TOMIMOTO Kenkichi and KONDŌ Yūzō at Kyoto City College of Fine Arts. Beyond his training, though, his interactions with SUZUKI Osamu and YAGI Kazuo inspired his distinctive saidei (layered clay) works that combined abstraction and landscape using ambitious techniques into daring, sculptural forms. A beautiful example from this beloved artist is a highlight of the show.
This seismic shift in ceramic training, from father-to-son to university professor-to-student, enabled women for the first time to become ceramic artists, and some of the most accomplished are featured in Transcendent Kyoto. KATSUMATA Chieko (b. 1950) is represented with a creamy akoda (pumpkin) vessel in soft, vegetal tones of orange and green; FUJINO Sachiko (b. 1950) takes another natural form – blossoming flowers – and reinterprets them into striking geometric sculptures. The youngest of this cohort is TANAKA Yū (b. 1989), whose trompe l'oeil furoshiki (wrapped parcels) sculptures are of clay imitating the characteristics of cloth. And of truly local inspiration, the incised-pattern vessels of KITAMURA Junko (b. 1956), a pupil of KONDŌ Yutaka, are painstakingly imprinted by hand, a technique first prompted by observing as a child the process of textile designers in Kyoto.
Kyoto has also produced some of Japan's very best painters across the centuries. Working in the Maruyama-Shijō tradition of naturalism, first established by MARUYAMA Ōkyo (1733-1795), from whom there will be one master painting dating to his prime circa 1776, Transcendent Kyoto features a large scroll painting by the incomparable NAGASAWA Rosetsu (1754-1799). Also on display is a very fine pair of two-fold sleeping screens by MATSUMARA Keibun (1779-1843), whose spring landscape with cranes showcases his precise and delicate brushwork. Alongside these master paintings is a selection of fine Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), which will focus on scenes from Kyoto.
About Joan B. Mirviss LTD
With more than forty-five years of experience, Joan B. Mirviss is a pillar in the field of Japanese art. As a dealer, scholar, curator, and advisor, she has been the driving force championing the top Japanese clay artists, who she represents exclusively, and whose works she has placed in major museums around the globe. Widely published as a highly respected expert, Mirviss has built many institutional and private collections of Japanese art. JOAN B MIRVISS LTD exhibits modern and contemporary Japanese ceramics, ukiyo-e, and Japanese paintings from its exclusive Madison Avenue location in New York City.
For more information, please contact us at 212-799-4021.