Kawase Shinobu

The Blossoming of Celadon

September 15 – October 31, 2014

Press Release

Joan B. Mirviss LTD is honored to present The Blossoming of Celadon /Seiji no kaika, the gallery’s third solo exhibition of the works of celebrated Japanese celadon master Kawase Shinobu. As 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the artist’s relationship with Joan B. Mirviss, he has created over thirty new works for this occasion, and is presenting a new glaze exhibited for the first time outside of Japan.

“Many think of Kawase as Japan’s outstanding celadon artist.” (F. Baekeland, Modern
Japanese Ceramics in American Collections, Japan Society, 1993)

“In both their esthetic and production values, the pieces are flawless.” (ARTnews, June
2009)

Dubbed In Japan Seiji sensei or King of Celadon, Kawase introduces a dynamic new
body of work featuring suiji glaze. Even for an artist as exacting and methodical as
Kawase, who uses only the highest quality clay from both China and Japan and never
releases a piece with a single flaw, this glazing technique is extremely difficult and is
suitable only for smaller-scale works. Each vessel requires up to eight separate firings.
It is only in the final firing process that an intricately feathered pattern emerges and
variations in color from a rich jade green to deep burgundy and crimson are revealed.
Continually mining his natural surrounding for inspiration, the artist likens this affect and coloration to the flamboyant plumage of the kingfisher. With his new suiji glaze,
Kawase states he’s “moving into a new world of challenges,” but does so focusing on
the most revered and elemental form in Japanese ceramics - the teabowl.
“With his new suiji teabowls, evocative of Song Dynasty rabbit’s hair tenmoku, Kawase
has turned the page on celadon history.” (Hayashiya Seizō, Curator Emeritus Tokyo
National Museum, Tosetsu Magazine, July 2014)

As a fully mature artist, Kawase’s fidelity to the tenants of the Song Dynasty traditions
remains, yet he moves beyond on an artistic continuum. Using his mastery of the
wheel, his new classic green-blue seiji-glazed vessels possess greater dynamism and
a broader range of scale. Slender flower-like vases are more attenuated and wave inspired bowls feature more accentuated pinched points and a greater fluidity of form.

“With his cool, spotless, and soothing use of celadon glaze on vases and bowls whose
lips curl like young leaves, the gentle elegant shapes of Mr. Kawase’s vessels are
seductive and organic.” (New York Sun, March 31, 2005)

“An object I would never part with is a bowl made for me by Japanese ceramic artist
Kawase Shinobu. Being a potter myself, I can really respect what he has made.”
(Terence Conran in Financial Times February 10, 2010.)

As a young artist he devoted himself to transcending the Song Dynasty (960-1270)
celadon prototypes, making numerous visits to the Palace Museum in Taipei with
pockets full of his test pieces to compare with the works in the museum’s collection.
His storied career includes numerous awards and solo exhibitions. “Seeing these fluid
pieces first-hand makes it easy to understand why in 1981 he was the youngest
ceramist to have ever been awarded the prestigious Japan Ceramic Society Prize.”
(Asian Art Newspaper, March 2009). This past year, Kawase was further honored as
the recipient of the Ceramic Society’s lifetime achievement award, the Gold Prize.
Kawase Shinobu’s works are in the permanent collections of major museums across
the globe and are fervently sought after by private collectors both stateside and
abroad. Most recently, his work has been featured in The Betsy and Robert Feinberg
Collection: Japanese Ceramics for the Twenty-first Century at the Walters Museum of
Art in Baltimore and his work can also currently be seen in Evolution of Chinese
Ceramics and Their Influence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.