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ISEZAKI Koichiro :Naru
Clay is the lifeblood of Bizen, it has long been thought. Bizen employs the most fine-textured clay among the so-called Six Ancient Kilns. Because Bizen clay cannot withstand sudden changes in temperature, firing temperatures need to be raised very slowly. Bizen clay roughly falls under yama-tsuchi (lit. mountain clay) and ta-tsuchi (paddy clay). The latter is stickier and more malleable, and fires to a finish that is widely considered the best in terms of allowing the intrinsic character of the clay shine through. Of course, not all Bizen artists use what is considered top-quality clay, but serious engagement with clay still remains a major preoccupation for many, one of whom is Koichiro Isezaki, a ceramicist who was born into a family of Bizen potters.
"Knowing how your crude clay existed before it was excavated significantly affects subsequent creation. (...) Imagining and accumulating thoughts about the land it came from, and the immeasurably long time that nurtured it definitely have some kind of effect on me," says Isezaki about his commitment to clay.
Isezaki studied wood sculpture as a sculpture major at Tokyo Zokei University. Pottery appeared on his horizon when he was a fourth-year student. Working with camphor wood led to musings about tsuchi [the Japanese word is used interchangeably for both soil and clay], and eventually to producing ceramics. He became an apprentice of New York-based ceramicist Jeff Shapiro, whose work he greatly admires. Discussions with Shapiro and his students on means of expression, such as why one medium is preferred over another, led Isezaki to the conviction that ceramics could become his expressive outlet because he would still be shaping natural materials, whether it was sculpting wood or clay.
Sculpture employs wire, wood and other materials for armatures. For ceramics, the equivalent is a void, and within the void lies the essence of ceramics, it could be argued. Isezaki describes his creative aim and the spatial effect of clay objects as follows: "Shape, texture and color are aspects that determine how an object comes across, but are by no means the purpose of the object. What fascinates me most are the effect a clay object has on surrounding space and on emotions, and how the object conveys the multifarious richness clay brings with it."
The subtitle of the present exhibition--naru, which means "to become" and/or "to grow"--is not merely a reference to the visible distortion of vessel shapes achieved by firing, but also connote the idea of "bearing something within"--as in yo, the word chosen for the title of some of the works in the exhibition. There is no straightforward answer as to what exactly a ceramic vessel "bears"--it could be air, or even the inevitable emptiness. Here, the artist is putting forth shapes that swell and "become" what they are by bearing new life in the empty space within the "armature" in a process the artist chooses to call "happenings"--the workings of an invisible yet fertile power that transcends words could be another way of describing it. Isezaki's "Yo" pieces almost seem to make audible the heartbeat of invisible life forms, which I feel is none other than the heartbeat of ceramic-making that has been passed from generation to generation since Jomon times.
MORI Koichi, Art Critic; Executive Director, Japan Ceramic Society
|Date||23 January - 30 March, 2020|
|Closed||Wednesdays, 23 February, 2020|
|Planned and organized by||LIXIL Corporation|
|1974||Born in Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture|
|1996||Graduated from the Department of Sculpture, Tokyo Zokei University|
|1998||Began studying under Jeff Shapiro (New York)|
|2005||Okayama Broadcasting Award at the 48th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Chugoku Branch Exhibition|
|2008||Symposium “Chato—Zokei to isho ni miru genzaisei (Tea Bowls—Presentness Seen in their Form and Design)” (gallery Voice in Tajimi City, Gifu Pref.)|
|2009||Encouragement Award at the 26th Tanabe Museum of Art Award “Chanoyu no zokeiten (Art Exhibition of Tea Ceremony)” (2012 and 2016)|
|2010||apan Kogei Association Award at the 53th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Chugoku Branch Exhibition|
|Works exhibited at “About the Tea Ceremony - A Viewpoint on Contemporary Kogei (Studio Crafts)” (Crafts Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)|
|2011||Japan Kogei Association Chugoku Branch Chief Award at the 54th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Chugoku Branch Exhibition|
|The 6th Paramita Museum Ceramic Art Grand Prize Exhibition (Paramita Museum,Mie)|
|2012||Encouragement Award at the 5th Okayama Prefecture Development of Emerging Artists Program, “Mr. I Award”|
|Education Chief Award at the 55th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Chugoku Branch Exhibition|
|2013||Governor of Okayama Prefecture Award at the 56th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Chugoku Branch Exhibition (2015)|
|Exhibition and a lecture in Faenza, Italy|
|2014||The 15th Fukutake Culture Encouragement Award|
|2016||Governor of Shimane Prefecture Award at the 59th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Chugoku Branch Exhibition|
|Sanyo Shimbun Award at the 67th Okayama Prefectural Art Exhibition (2019)|
|2019||“Bizen:From Earth and Fire, Exquisite Forms” (Crafts Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and other sites ,traveling exhibition)|
|“Exhibition of Koichiro Isezaki—Naru” (Art Gallery, 6F Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, Tokyo)|