THE WORLD BETWEEN TWO HANDS: TEABOWLS
Joan B. Mirviss LTD is delighted to present our first exhibition focused exclusively on the ceramic art of the Japanese tea ceremony, with over forty recent works by master teabowl artist Ajiki Hiro. Using a multiplicity of forms and a broad array of captivating glazes and patterns, Ajiki is renown in Japan for his unrivalled range of unique and personalized teabowls. He is one of the very few active ceramists so focused on this highly complicated and revered implement.
For over twenty-five years, Ajiki Hiro (b. 1948) has concentrated on the art of perfecting the teabowl, or chawan, the central element in the Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu). As an artist, he views the tea ceremony as an intimate form of communication between host and guest as well as a spiritual experience. The teabowl, while appreciated as a work of art, is really a functional drinking vessel that offers, when held, a magical combination of balance, form and weight that should complement the taste and sensibility of both the user and the host. For this artist, his goal is to convey to the recipient, his own energy and personality, and for the viewer, in selecting a particular teabowl, to reveal his own values and taste.
Ajiki recently commented: “The small space embraced within your palms [when holding a teabowl] becomes a mirror to reflect both yourself and the world around you, telling a story… the tea ceremony itself offers a space and time for communication as participants share equally in the moment.”
Initially trained as a western-style painter when an art student, Ajiki brings a highly developed color sensibility combined with bold patterning to his evocative ceramics as well as to his interest in calligraphy and traditional Japanese painting. With his vast range of shapes and styles, this potter stands alone in Japan, particularly in his passion for salt-glazed (enyû) teabowls. His basara series of teabowls and tea caddies (chaire) has received great acclaim. Derived from the late-16th-century tastes of the militaristic ruling class, basara implies gorgeous but refined beauty, but in Ajiki’s oeuvre, is evoked in the richly colored checkerboard patterns on his faceted vessels. Individual rectangles contain glazes varied both in color and texture, sometimes gold and occasionally silver, one balancing and contrasting with another as the bowl is rotated in the palm of one’s hand.
In 1987, Ajiki won the prestigious Grand Prize at the Modern Tea Forms Exhibition of the Tanabe Museum of Art for a basara-style teabowl and numerous awards have followed. His work can be found in public and private collections in Japan and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While our gallery has represented Ajiki for over a decade, this exhibition marks his first solo exhibition in the United States.