OKAKURA Kakuzo 岡倉覚三 (1863-1913), a most celebrated Japanese scholar and the author of The Book of Tea, once insightfully pointed out that, in Japan, "there has always been abundant energy for the acceptance and re-application of the influence received." Ceramicist Kenji Kojima illustrates this characteristic through his creative works that repurposeand reimagine traditional sources into poetic and playful modern ceramics. Born in 1953, Kojima happily made traditional Iga pottery at Iga City for the bulk of his career beginning in 1972. Recently, however, he discovered the poetry of Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 (1644-1694), whose words inspired Kojima to adapt a new style in the spirit of the traditional Haiku. Basho became one of the most famous Japanese Haiku poets by traveling on foot all over the country sharing his poems, which were often autobiographical or about the beautiful places he had seen on his travels. Mr. Kojima has said that this jar reminds him of the back print of a kimono, reflecting that traditional Japanese fashion is often colorful and playful in a similar way. Just like those fashionable fabrics, the juxtaposition of bright and dark colors makes the pattern really pop. To achieve his stripes, Kojima carved lines on half-dried clay and inserted pigment ink before and after the firing process, resulting in a highly complex piece of work.
In Edo period, common people were only allowed to wear the most basic colors, such as blue, gray, or brown, because the feudal government wanted to make sure that the lower classes did not show any signs of wealth or power. However, in small acts of rebellion, common people began lining their kimonos in fashionable patterns as a private statement of individuality and power. These playful stripes by Mr. Kojima remind us of those secret fashion statements from Edo period. Just imagine a common traveler tucking up the corner of their kimono to reveal this colorful pattern!
KOJIMA Kenji 小島憲二 (1953-)
H20.6cm x Dia18.2cm, H8" x Dia7"