Weekly Highlight: TSUJIMURA Shiro

Weekly Highlight: TSUJIMURA Shiro 辻村史郎

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My marvelous odyssey of discovering Japanese ceramics began with wood-fired works, such as those typical of Bizen, ( Kaneshige's work) Shigaraki, ( Kohara Yasuhiro) and Iga wares ( Fujioka Shuhei). They are so different from the experience I encountered in my Chinese upbringing, and I am challenged at every turn by the Japanese fusions of beauty and ugliness, simplicity and complexity, accident and intention. I remember, early in my affair with Japanese ceramics, visiting Tsujimura Shiro outside of Nara. His fancy vehicle was the only clue that we were still in the modern age-the forest hills surrounding his wooden house and the pots lined up everywhere pulled one back to a remote past countryside.

When I asked Tsujimura what first drew him to ceramics, he answered:
While I was studying to become a monk, which was long before I had any interest in working with clay, I saw an impressive Ido tea bowl. The expression I saw in it made it seem almost a friend, or a fellow monk, and I thought: "As with the mu of Zen, there must be a mu of ceramics." Eventually I came back to that.

This mu must be free from human intention and control; it allows nature and the uncertainty of the universe into the ceramic process, resulting in works that carry the wildness of the Japanese landscape. This large faceted Iga vase embodies the concept of mu. It stands over 20 inches tall, with a green ash glaze covering the body like moss on an ancient stone. It appears at once organic and mineral, its rough edges contrasting with the softness of the ash deposit. The moist clay texture appears as if it was just dug out of the earth-it is a slice of nature, free from human ego and control. 
Indeed, appreciation for Japanese ceramics can be a window onto another world, and becomes another way of understanding aesthetic concerns. I am a happy student of Japanese ceramics and have been for over 20 years! And I will remain so as I continue to search out my mu in life.

TSUJIMURA Shiro 辻村史郎 (1947- )
Natural Glazed Flower Vase 自然釉花入, circa2006 H52.7 x W21 x D11.8cm, H20.75" x W8.2" x D4.6" With Signed Wood Box