Ichino Masahiko Exhibition
Mitsukoshi Department Store, Tokyo
June 15 to 21, 2004
Story and Photos
by Robert Yellin
A department store in Japan is more than just a place to buy suits and home appliances; it also offers many of the best art exhibitions in Japan. These are usually held in large halls, run for a few weeks and attract thousands of visitors. A recent Arakawa Toyozo-Kato Tokuro exhibition in Tokyo was packed each day with visitors standing three deep. For a living artist to have an exhibition at a leading department store means they have made it, especially if it's Takashimaya or Mitsukoshi. Unlike a major retrospective like the one mentioned above, a living artist shows in the art gallery section that usually has two or three separate rooms for concurring exhibitions. The only problem with these exhibitions is the length of the show, only a week at most, and that leaves little time to go if one has a busy schedule. Yet, there are some exhibitions I must see and I go out of my way to create time. Ichino Masahiko's recent Tokyo exhibition at Mitsukoshi was one such exhibition that was on my must-see list. Why?
Simply put, Ichino's work is what contemporary ceramics in Japan is all about: tradition that's up-to-date, a sense of responsibility to that tradition, and creativity that always challenges and delights the viewer.
As with most popular ceramic artists, small works such as guinomi fly out the door on the first day and so it was with Ichino. I went on the fifth day and none were to be seen, only the sold cards lined up by the door. Oh well. What I did see made up for my shuki disappointment though. Ichino's sense of form, line and color are superb and how he brings them into play on his creations is enthralling. Almost every work on display should be in a museum and that includes his playful 'figure' tokkuri and spellbinding hanging wall plates. Here is a slide show of the exhibition, also showing Ichino talking with famed critic Yoshida Kozo. More about Ichino can be read here (includes his vita and exhibition history.