Iga and Shigaraki
Part two of Frank’s International House of Ceramics, opening January 5th, will feature the work of Sugimoto Sadamitsu. Regarded in Japan as the greatest living master of the Iga and Shigaraki styles, he has received numerous honors in his home country. The gallery hosted the first comprehensive exhibition in the United States of Sugimoto-sensei’s works in February, 2012.
Sugimoto-sensei’s Tea Ceremony vessels were highlighted in a 1989 exhibition commemorating the 400th anniversary of legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu’s passing. His work was then selected for use in the movie Rikyu, about the life of the revered tea master. This honor is significant; it was through the teachings of Sen no Rikyu that the Tea Ceremony came to be a highly studied aesthetic ritual and a way of life. Over four centuries old, the Japanese Tea Ceremony is at the basis of traditional Japanese culture, and epitomizes its highest cultural values.
Both the Shigaraki and Iga traditions are contingent on long firings at extremely high temperatures. Because no glazes are applied to the pieces, the surface variations are the result of wood ash settling on the ceramics in the hot kiln. The Shigaraki works we are presenting are characterized by their ashy surfaces, while the works in the Iga tradition feature glassy green drips – a hallmark of their outstanding quality. Both styles have a rugged presence, and the finished works illustrate the unpredictable nature of their processes.