Jagged little pots dictating form
By ROBERT YELLIN
for The Japan Times, March 24, 2001
Asia week had New York City awash with auctions, gallery openings and lectures. Two major auction houses had Japanese art on the block, and five Kyoto potters were exhibiting at the Barry Friedman Gallery in an exhibition organized by Joan Mirviss.
I was in the Big Apple to speak at a New York University lecture series titled "The Arts of China, Japan and Korea: Influence, Confluence and Divergence," which covered three days and featured speakers from around the world.
Pot No. 28
by Takiguchi Kazuo
Most spoke on topics dealing with antiquities. University of California, Berkeley, professor James Cahill spoke on China's relations with Japan and Korea; Dr. Kurt Gitter on Zen paintings of the Edo Period; and International Christian University professor Richard Wilson about his archaeological finds in Edo Period samurai homes. My talk, "Present Ceramic Voices Echoing the Past," was the only presentation dealing with a contemporary theme. It was well received and I was honored to be among such an illustrious group.
On a panel discussion on the last day that included one Sotheby's online man and a former Christie's auction house specialist, one member of the audience asked what might be a good thing to start collecting at this point in time. Dr. Gitter replied, "I think contemporary Japanese pottery is a good place with lots available." I enthusiastically applauded!
Living in Japan, we have available the finest contemporary ceramic scene in the world. It would be a shame if you didn't own a good piece, whether functional or sculptural, even if nothing more than a good yunomi (tea cup).
The NYU campus surrounds Washington Square Park. In this Greenwich Village setting I wondered how a Japanese pot would look in a brownstone or even sitting on the low, rolling terrain of the park. Then I thought of Takiguchi Kazuo's organic-looking pots, and I could easily imagine a Takiguchi work set out on the grass, creating the feeling of a ceramic sculptural garden.
You all don't have to travel to New York City to see what I mean, for Takiguchi is exhibiting in Kyoto at Takashimaya's sixth-floor gallery March 28-April 3, 2001. Takiguchi will also show in a few other cities and has chosen the pieces to match the ambience of each place.
In the exhibition catalog he writes that what is important is to "loiter" in front of his artworks, because "I realized that various discoveries of life are made through what seemed wasteful at first sight."
A pot set against a tree in Washington Square Park or sitting quietly in an exhibition space does itself have the feeling of a loiterer and one that is there just wasting time. Yet, when a person distances him/herself from an object or act, it does come into a clearer focus, and thus a clearer meaning. This in turn gives it a whole new perspective, often fresh and invigorating.
Takiguchi's rounded forms all have some sharp, jagged opening that pulls the viewer into the piece, so much so that one wants to look inside that black hole full of mystery. It's the empty space that actually gives the piece its shape. Seemingly insignificant at first, it's very much the dictator of form.
Piece by Takiguchi Kazuo
Takiguchi's works are alive with form: dark, sleek pieces, all simply titled "2001." Some have two sections joined like Siamese twins holding each other up, sharing an embrace. Others look like smooth, elongated, prehistoric chopping tools that have been polished in some distant surf.
Takiguchi has a unique way of forming his vacuolar creations. He first lays the clay on the floor on top of a canvas that has pulleys attached to each corner. He then hoists it up, and by moving the canvas this way and that he's able to get his unusual forms.
This has earned him a slew of awards, including the Foreign Minister's Award at the 1985 Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition and the Grand Prix at the same exhibition three years later, and the Kyoto Arts and Crafts Exhibition Grand Prize as well. The list is quite long.
Still, I don't think that would impress a passerby in Washington Square Park. I do know that if a Takiguchi work was loitering somewhere on the grass, the pedestrian would slow down, possibly even loiter awhile, and discover in a brief, seemingly trivial point in time, something profound.
Works by Kazuo Takiguchi, March 28-April 3 at Kyoto Takashimaya's sixth-floor gallery; April 4-10 at Osaka Nanba Takashimaya; April 18-24 at Takashimaya Nagoya.
The Japan Times: March 24, 2001
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