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Mitate: Japanese studio ceramics and the tea ceremony

Mitochu Koeki, Tokyo

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Shōji Kamoda, Polychrome decorated jar, 1971. Courtesy: Mitochu Koeki, Tokyo

Shōji Kamoda, Polychrome decorated jar, 1971. Courtesy: Mitochu Koeki, Tokyo

Mitochu Koeki presents a combined tea ceremonial representation of ceramic wares of superb museum quality made by modern Japanese masters alongside with classical antique tea ceremony wares to enhance the visual contrast.

The exhibits include the works by modern ceramic legends such as Shoji Kamoda (1933-1983) and Kazuo Yagi (1918-1979) a modern lacquer artist, Tatsuaki Kuroda (1904-1982), as well as antique tea related utensils such as an Iga fresh water jar, a tea caddy and a black Raku tea bowl by Dōnyū (1599-1656), the third generation of the Raku dynasty.

Also on display will be a selection of two-dimensional works such as a ceramic plaque by Kazuo Yagi, one of the Haiku Series exhibited in Paris in 1978, and a Manga drawing by Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), the most important Manga artist representing the modern Japan.

To represent the Old, a scroll painting depicting the medieval battle scene from 15th century would be hung. Another eye-catching presentation would be the display of a symbolic Bible series by Takako Araki (1921-2004), evocative mixture of the spirituality of the West and the East in contrast to a Buddha sculpture known as Sentaibustsu, literally, thousand Buddha, from the Kōfukuji temple in Nara.

Mitate is an artistic statement expressed with a free spirit of the host of the tea ceremony who carefully prepares a harmonious combination of tea utensils chosen with his sensibilities for a sense of season and with attention to the individual guests whom he invites, and above all, all the tea utensils and other objects, beyond time and place that they come from, gathered together in the microcosmic space of a tea room presents a resonant harmony and a meaning of co-existence.

This experiment could be universal beyond the tea cult shared by the eyes of, for example, the modern artists such as Pablo Picasso or Marcel Duchamp who discovered the power and the essence of an object.

In today’s world filled with overwhelming information and limitless materialistic alternatives that becomes almost impossible to deal with human cognition, we believe that the spirit of mitate provides a proposal of a guideline, subtly hidden but vast in potentiality, to art in general.