Weekly Highlight: 
KOHARA Yasuhiro 小原康裕 (1954- )
Confidence and Freedom: The Art of Yasuhiro Kohara

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Born in 1954, Yasuhiro Kohara at age 50 is in full possession of his artistic skills and aesthetic vision. Totally acquainted with his clay and kiln, Kohara works with a maturity and assurance that allow him to soar into a place of perfect freedom. He creatively exploits the possibilities inherent in his handsome and tactile Shigaraki clay and sets up the conditions for "kiln accidents" so appropriate and beautiful in their results that it is clear they are the results of careful calculation. Self-taught, Kohara had no formal schooling in ceramic art, and he apprenticed to no master. This, perhaps, is what gave rise to his notably free and intuitive approach.

Kohara works in a variety of forms: vases, teabowls, baskets, covered boxes, rectangular and circular platters and distinctive wall-mounted flower holders. His forms exhibit a bit of bravado; they are always just a little bit bigger, a little bit longer, a little bit stronger than one would expect. The long hanging vases are particularly difficult to make, because they must be drawn out of the kiln by means of a long metal pole, and Kohara notes that as he gets older it is harder to handle the weight of the pole.

Kohara manipulates ash glaze, clay and form in a delicate balance of strength and fluidity. He handles thick, muscular hunks of clay with lightness and dynamic lyricism. His objects are characterized by elaborate green glaze washes and rivulets and pools and exquisite red-orange flashings against the grainy, buff-to-grey Shigaraki clay. Vases and tea bowls often exhibit the desirable "dragonfly eye", created when the glaze collects and solidifies into a prominent jewel-like drip.

Kohara's aesthetic sense and technique have been shaped by the strong Shigaraki tradition. The lush, green, and mountainous vistas of Shigaraki find expression in his work, which is evocative of volcanic forces, waterfalls, pristine pools. Neighboring artists Michio Furukata, and Naokata Ueda are frequent companions and he notes that Shunsai Takahashi has been his inspiration for how to be true to the calling to be an artist, never settling, always looking for something new.

One is tempted to judge Kohara a romantic. Or one might speculate that the circular decoration on his platters are a form of "enso" or Buddhist circle. But Kohara denies any emotive or spiritual intention, stating firmly "No philosophy." Rather he judges his work in purely formal terms, noting how a well-situated drip is balanced by a corresponding rivulet, how a neck and lip are ideally sized on a well-proportioned body. This is very self-assured work - spontaneous, direct, emotional - much like the artist himself, and the landscape he calls home.

by Patricia Pelehach
Excerpt from Art&Perception Magazine

KOHARA Yasuhiro 小原康裕 (1954-)
Selected Public Collection:
Clark Center for Japanese Art
The Art Complex Museum
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art Cornell University, New York 
Shigaraki Jar 信楽壷
H18" x Dia17", H45.8 x Dia43cm
Stoneware

Shigaraki Wall Vase 信楽掛花
H23.5" x D1.7" x W4.4", H60 x D4.5 x W11.2cm
Stoneware