Kato Shigetaka 加藤重高(1927- 2013)

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Image that you are the son of a famous Living National Treasure and the younger brother of a publicly acknowledged ceramic genius - are you suffocated by your family, or inspired!?

Born in 1927 in Seto, Aichi into just such a situation, Kato Chigetaka (1927-2013) was the third son of famous potter Kato Tokuro 加藤唐九郎 (1897-1985) and the younger brother of artist Okabe Mineo 岡部嶺男 (1919-1990). He graduated from the Aichi Prefectural Ceramic High School in 1945 and built his own successful career, eventually winning many major prizes including the Japan Ceramic Society Prize in 1967, the Craft Prize at the Japan Contemporary Craft Exhibition in 1970, and the Nagoya Artist Award in 1998. Kato's ceramic walls can be found in many public buildings around Japan, and one of his Shino pieces graces the cover of Dr. Fredereick Baekland and Robert Moes' ceramics bible Modern Japanese Ceramics in American Collections.

Here, we have an unexpected delight: a silent block of clay with deep scoring and a rugged appearance. Like a long lost friend, it touches me deeply with its humble solemnity and powerful quietness. Like a silent witness to memories and stories, to time gone by and all of the sorrows and joys of life, this work stands solid and strong. Many lives have passed through it, and it has weathered all of time's ups and downs: the nostalgic melancholy of deep autumn, the lonely introspection of the long rainy season, and everything in between. It slows my traveling steps and calls for a deeper look. I close my eyes as I pass my hands over its surface, and I can feel the lives that have passed through it. I can feel the weight of life's tenderness and bitterness in the rustic iron glaze. I wandered around it, absorbing its serious energy as I passed back and forth many times.

I often wonder if Kato Shigetaka had this intention when making this piece. Did he see through the glory of his famous father? Was he disillusioned by his troubled brother? Did he ever expect a foreigner like me to pause to decode his complex piece? We will never know, but he has left us a gift in ceramic form, one which will carry our stories to future generations.

1927 Born in Seto, Aichi
1945 Graduated from Aichi Prefectural Ceramic High School
Started work under his father Tokuro
1966 Received Award at Nitten
1967 Received the Japan Ceramic Society Prize
1970 Received the Craft Prize at Japan Contemporary Craft Exhibition 
1998 Received Nagoya Artist Award
2013 Passed away

KATO Shigetaka 加藤重高(1927-2013)
Ash glazed Square Jar 刻文灰被り方壷
H11.5" x D7.9" x W16.3", H29.2 x D20.2 x W41.4cm
Stoneware
With Signed Wood Box and Lacquer Presentation Box