A Palette for Genius

Japanese Water Jars for the Tea Ceremony

Asia Week New York 2016

March 10 – April 15, 2016

Press Release

From March 10-19, New York is the destination for Asian art. Join fellow collectors, curators and enthusiasts for an event-filled week of exhibitions, auctions, lectures, and educational programs.

Visit the Asia Week New York website here for more information.


With origins dating back to the 9th century, nothing is quite as inextricably linked within the realm of Japanese ceramics as chanoyu, the tea ceremony. Each ceramic utensil employed is selected with great care and thus, a culture of art has always surrounded this tradition. Therefore, Joan B Mirviss LTD is thrilled to announce the opening of A Palette for Genius: Japanese Water Jars for the Tea Ceremony, coinciding with the start of Asia Week New York 2016, and organized in conjunction with the leading modern ceramic dealer in Japan, Shibuya Kurodatoen Co., LTD. This exhibition juxtaposes ancient traditions with current interpretations of the mizusashi, a lidded water jar used to replenish the brazier, as a testament to the evolution of this timeless tea ceremony utensil.


Usually made of ceramic, the water jar’s entry into the tea room marks the beginning of the formal preparation of tea, and occupies a prominent position throughout the proceedings. Apart from some basic requirements in regard to size and shape, the artist has tremendous freedom to create a vessel that will be visually compelling, yet functional. However, regardless of style, the water jar’s ultimate aim is to offer a profound spiritual experience through the drinking of tea and silent contemplation. Andrew Maske, whose essay is featured in the exhibition’s catalogue, remarks of the show:


This selection of water jars features a stunning display of work by Japan’s most renowned modern and contemporary ceramic artists. Their techniques span the range of traditional, innovative, and original processes that reflect a wide array of aesthetic approaches, from rough and gestural, to refined and exquisite.


- Andrew Maske, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Kentucky


For hundreds of years, the tea ceremony has inspired Japanese ceramists to create highly unique utensils, like the water jar, which embody the mantra of tea, ichi-go ichi-e, “for this time only”. This philosophy guides the spirit of this exhibition which presents ceramists with utterly singular styles, such as more traditional masters like Fujimoto Nôdô (1919-1992), Ishiguro Munemaro (1893-1968), Katô Tôkurô (1898-1985), Kitaôji Rosanjin (1883-1959), Kiyomizu Rokubei VI (1901-1980), Koyama Fujio (1900-1975), Okabe Mineo (1919-1990), Suzuki Osamu (1926-2001), Tokuda Yasokichi III (1933-2009), and Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979), as well as artists with a contemporary flair such as Fukumoto Fuku (b. 1973), Itô Hidehito (b.1971), Katsumata Chieko (b.1950), Kawase Shinobu (b.1950), Kondô Takahiro (b.1958), Morino Taimei (b.1934), Sakiyama Takiyuki (b.1958), Suzuki Gorô (b.1941), and Yagi Akira (b.1955), among others.