Yamada Hikaru

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Pottery As Canvas


    Yamada Hikaru (1924-2001), the artist behind this beautiful vase, was one of the founders of the important Japanese ceramic group Sodeisha. The members of this group were the first ceramicists to explore the surface of ceramics as a medium, painting onto it much like a painter would use a canvas. 

    The dynamic, gestural style employed here is in the spirit of American postwar abstraction, particularly of the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. Pollock himself was interested in the art of Japanese calligraphy, and incorporated this interest into the way he handled paint in his own work. The relationship between Yamada and Pollock illustrates a wider exchange of artistic ideas between East and West in the second half of the twentieth century. 

       The prominent intellectual and champion of the avant-garde Takiguchi Shuzo played an integral role in the introduction of Western-style modernism to Japan. He strove to uncover elements of the modern in traditional Japanese culture in his writing, and by doing so to enrich and preserve that culture in an increasingly modern world. Takiguchi mused about "the East in the West, the West in the East," which could be found in the art of both cultures-a concept demonstrated beautifully here by the calligraphic iron drawing, which originated in the East and was popularized in the West before making its way back again. In this way, the simple beauty of this small piece plays an important role in the history of modern Japanese ceramics.YAMADA Hikaru


White slip with iron drawing, ceramic

H: 9" x W: 5"