幽玄 YUGEN Contemporary Japanese Ceramics
From Thursday 14 January, Officine Saffi welcomes the new year with an exhibition based on a careful study of the contemporary Japanese art scene.
YUGEN, Contemporary Japanese Ceramics is an exhibition presenting works by five artists from three different generations: Keiji Ito and Yasuhisa Kohyama, born respectively in 1935 and 1936, Shozo Michikawa and Shingo Takeuchi born in 1953 and 1955, and Kazuhito Nagasawa born in 1968. For all of them, this is their first exhibition in Italy.
Even though of different generations and style, the works reveal the same source of inspiration, which could be considered as the show's principal theme: Yugen.
In Japanese, Yugen means a mysterious feeling of intangible, inexpressible beauty, something that all the artists seems to have followed in their work, guided by an ancestral conscience whose roots run deep in ancient Japanese tradition. In that country, ceramics is a primary art, and the quest for balance in shape, materials and colour reaches its highest form of expression.
A profound search for interior and aesthetic balance can be found in the anthropomorphic sculptures with archaic references by Keiji Ito, and in the generous volumes by Kohyama that seem to have been sculpted by the wind; there are the technical experiments by Shozo Michikawa, and the hermetic sculptures by Takeuchi; and finally Nagasawa's mysterious containers for memories.
Unique, irregular forms that express a sort of naturalistic spirit in objects created by the hand of man are a distinctive feature of Japanese art. This exhibition gives the general public the chance to see works by some of the most important personalities working on the contemporary Japanese art scene, and to learn more about the philosophy of Japanese culture.
For the realization of this exhibition we thank the precious collaboration of Yasuhisa Kohyama, Jennifer Lee, Shozo Michikawa, Togakudo gallery in the person of Tomoko Tanioka.
Milan, Officine Saffi (Via A. Saffi, 7)
YUGEN Contemporay Japanese Ceramics
14 January – 16 March 2016
Inauguration: Thursday 14 January 18.30 - 21.00
from Monday to Friday, 10.00am – 6.30pm. Saturday 11.00am – 6.00pm. Sunday by appointment.
Tel.: +39 02 36 68 56 96
OS Project, Milan
OS Project comprises the Ceramic Arts Gallery, Officine Saffi, whose mission is the promotion of the highest and most sophisticated form of ceramics, namely works of art, by both new artists and consolidated practitioners, from Italy and abroad; the workshop OS Lab, which is comprehensively equipped with kilns, wheels and all equipment necessary for ceramics, and is used for workshops and seminars led by important artists; and La Ceramica in Italia e nel Mondo, an international magazine that explores both traditional and contemporary ceramics, as well as art in general, in all its forms and expressions.
Keiji Ito was born in Toki city, in the prefecture of Gifu, Japan, in 1935, and he graduated at the Musashino Art University in 1958. From his city of origin in Mino area, where he currently lives, Ito has been one of the first artists to exhibit non-functional, three-dimensional works of fired clay a constant throughout his artistic career, becoming notwithstanding the difficulties encountered in seeing his work accepted as true works of art, one of the major driving forces in the development of contemporary Mino ceramics pointing the way ahead for numerous young artists. The three series of works that are the heart of his oeuvre are Hiroshima, Chinmoku (Silence) e Shakudo (Measure). He is a member of IAC, International Academy of Ceramics, and he has exhibited in many galleries and museums in Europe, Japan and the United States. In 1981 he took part in the 39th edition of the Faenza prize. In 1994 he became a professor at Tohgei-no-Mori, the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in the prefecture of Shiga. In 2008, Keiji Ito was one of the jurors for the eighth edition of the Mino International Ceramics Competition. His works are present in some of the most important museums of the world.
Yasuhisa Kohyama was born in 1936 in Shigaraki, an important centre for the production of ceramics in Japan. At the age of 15, Kohyama began his career as a ceramist, working in one of the largest ceramics factories in Shigaraki, Oumi Kagaku Touki. In the following years he attended a training school in order to learn the fundamental ceramics techniques, and later began working with designers and architects on important projects.
In 1969 he set up his first studio and began experimenting with his own modelling and firing techniques. In 1973, he attained great success at his first solo show at the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Department in Tokyo.
His works are exhibited in Japan and in the collections of important international museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Shozo Michikawa was born in Hokkaido in 1953. He studied at Aoyama Gakuin University, graduating in 1975. He began working in business, but took evening classes in art, and a few years later he decided to dedicate all of his time to ceramics. He currently lives and works in Seto, in the prefecture of Aichi. He has exhibited principally in Japan, but also in the Philippines, Mongolia, France, New York and London. In 2005 he became the first Japanese artist to have the honour of an exhibition at the Forbidden City in Peking.
Nagasawa was born in 1968 in Osaka, Japan. His works comprise multiple elements that are combined together: clay is linked to iron, glass and wood.
Each container and each object that he makes has a different shape, but the contents contained inside are indicated uniquely by old paper labels placed on the works. The artist's intention is to preserve his precious "kioku", memories, inside these pieces.
In 1994 he took part in the fourth edition of the International Ceramic Competition in Mino, Japan. In 1997 he exhibited at the fifth Biennial Ceramics show in Japan, and in 2001 at the World Ceramic Expo in Korea. In 2013 he took part in the exhibition "Japanese Ceramics in Italy" in Rome, curated by Claudia Casali, a group show of Japanese artists at the Japanese Institute of Culture in Italy.
Takeuchi Shingo (born in 1955) is from the city of Seto, one of the oldest ceramics cities in Japan. He studied at the Institute of Ceramics Research in the prefecture of Aichi until 1979, and then with the great Kato Shuntei II. He started working with his own kiln in 1982. He has had many exhibitions, showing at the Asahi Togeiten Ceramics Exhibition, the Chunichi Kokusai International Ceramics Exhibition, the Nihon Togeiten Ceramics Exhibition and in many galleries in Japan and internationally. His works are present in many public and private collections, including the Museum of Seto, the International Ceramics Foundation of Korea, the Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan, and others.
The exhibition "YUGEN Contemporay Japanese Ceramics" is held under the Patronage of the General Consulate of Japan in Milan.