Japan today is home to the world’s most vibrant ceramic culture, with many thousands of potters working the length and breadth of the country. Featuring 60 examples made by more than 35 artists over the last two decades, this exhibition-the first of its kind at the MFA-offers a snapshot of everything that is most innovative, creative, and iconoclastic in present-day Japanese ceramics.
The pots selected range from painstakingly crafted porcelain inspired by Chinese prototypes, through rough-hewn vessels that revel in the happy accidents of wood-fired kilns, to ironic objects that mimic newspapers, discarded trash, and body parts.
The selection is drawn mostly from the collection of New Yorkers Alice and Halsey North and reflects their informed taste in its emphasis on works made under the influence of the avant-garde Sodeisha group, which challenged the traditional supremacy of utilitarian forms while maintaining a respect for technical excellence. Also strongly featured are artists reacting to the diverse opportunities and challenges of their craft heritage, some breaking away toward pure sculpture, others reinventing the vessel ideal with a range of new forms and glaze effects.
Whether celebrating natural forces, commenting on contemporary society, or paying tribute to cultural traditions, the artists featured never fail to inspire us by their wholehearted faith in the ceramic medium as it faces the challenges of a new century.