Ceramist: Takuma Tsuji
Takuma Tsuji, the fourth-generation successor of Souyo, creates ceramic framed works depicting scenes from Japan and the world that have been passed down through the Tsuji family for generations, but he also challenges himself with new and unique techniques every day. We spoke to him about how he approaches his work.
—Mr . Tsuji, please tell us about your thoughts on manufacturing.
We value “dialogue with materials”. While making things, there are times when pottery makers have to struggle with the materials, such as when the material and technique are not compatible, and I believe that when we confront these challenges, something never seen before is born. Masu. In addition, we are trying new techniques and approaches without being bound by the established style of Arita ware. I'm nervous when I take my work out of the kiln, but every once in a while I get a piece that goes beyond my imagination, so I enjoy working hard.
Having previously done oil painting, I really enjoy making ceramic frames depicting scenes from Japan and the world that have been passed down to the Tsuji family. Rather than an abstract painting, I want to leave a timeless scene on the ceramic board, such as a landscape from my thoughts. Just because you're good at painting doesn't mean you'll be good at ceramic plates; the relationship between materials is important, and I'm exploring this every day as I work on ceramic plates.
Photo: Ceramic plaque “Tomonoura Distant View”
As with the tradition of Arita ware, I feel there is potential in the process of finding a different correct answer from an established correct answer. For example, with this object, when I thought about the possibility of making a large piece using a method other than using a potter's wheel, I came up with an architectural approach of assembling ceramic plates, and after much trial and error with the internal structure, I was able to complete it. Ta. In addition, each process in Arita ware is highly difficult, so the division of labor among craftsmen is common, and although it has a strong image of being industrial and mass-produced, it is actually made by artists, like this object. There are many potters in Arita who do this.
Photo: Object “kizuku” *Not for sale
Photo by Seitaro IKI
-What kind of work are you currently focusing on?
Up until now, I have used ceramic plates to express large objects, but I have changed my approach and am now creating small objects that are detailed and fit in the hand. One of the charms of pottery is the "power of the material" that does not deteriorate. Even after hundreds of years, the matcha bowl used as a tea ceremony utensil still retains its shape and is still cherished. It's similar to the world of jewelry and luxury goods, and I also want to create beautiful things that fit in your hands and that are cherished. My stained glass-themed works shine like jewels, and I aim to create pieces that make you want to take them out and look at them every once in a while.
Photo: Manufactured using the Kiritsugi technique (Once formed, the vessel is cut, dismantled, reassembled and reconnected). By applying silver color to the seams, a complex, jewel-like luster is created.
-What kind of work would you like to create in the future?
I'm interested in cups that can be used for tea and coffee parties. In recent years, due to the coronavirus pandemic, people have often used their time alone, but from now on, I think tea parties and tea parties will increase as people want to enjoy communicating with others. I am thinking. Just holding it makes me feel good and makes me want to show it to others. I would also like to create works that encourage communication through cups.
- What is Mr. Tsuji's feelings towards Arita ware?
We are proud of the history of Arita ware, and we are also proud of our family, which has continued for four generations. Arita ware is my main focus, and I work hard to create pottery inspired by the history of Arita ware. Tracing the roots of the Tsuji family, my grandfather was active in the design department of *Koransha, and the master he received guidance from at that time was from Kyoto. I believe that Arita ware did not mature only in Arita, but was influenced by other regions as well. While Kutani ware from Ishikawa Prefecture retains its distinctive feature of colorful overglaze decoration, it has developed a variety of approaches. I think Arita ware could be more like an amoeba, changing its shape and incorporating various things. Arita is a town with a lot of tradition, and everyone loves it. Of course I love it, but I also want to continue making pottery while incorporating the good things from other production areas.
*Koransha...A 130-year-old ceramics manufacturer that was one of the first to develop new uses and export Arita ware during the Meiji period by Eizaemon Fukagawa, and has led the industry.
History of Arita ware
Arita ware is a type of porcelain that represents Japan and is painted with colorful paints. It has a long history, dating back 400 years. In 1616 , Yi San- pyeong (Japanese name: Kingae Sambei), a potter brought back by Nabeshima Naoshige of the Saga domain during the Bunroku-Keicho era by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was sent to Arita Izumiyama as raw material for porcelain. The discovery of high-quality pottery stone is said to be the beginning of Arita ware.
Arita ware is characterized by the use of somemetsuke, which is painted with an indigo pigment called gosu, and overglaze painting, called iroe, on the transparent white porcelain surface. Characterized by bright colors. It is highly durable and has been used to produce a variety of items, from works of art to daily necessities. “Overglaze” is the process of applying a design to the surface of glazed and fired porcelain.In contrast to “underglaze,” which involves applying a design before applying the glaze, it is called “overglaze” because it is painted over the glaze layer. It is said to be ``upper picture''. In addition, while the ``under-glaze'' is painted with indigo-colored gosu, the ``over-glaze'' is painted in a variety of colors.
Arita ware, which has been perfected over a long history, is generally divided into three styles: ``Old Imari style,'' ``Kakiemon style,'' and ``Nabeshima domain kiln style.''
"Old Imari style"
This is a style produced in Hizen Arita during the Edo period that uses rich dyeing and rich red and gold paint called kinrande. At that time, these porcelains were shipped from the port of Imari, adjacent to Arita, hence the name. Kinrande is a piece of colored porcelain decorated with gold paint or gold powder, creating a gorgeous pattern.
It is characterized by overglaze colored paintings called ``Aka-e'', which are painted in bright colors such as red, blue, green, and yellow on a milky white base called Nigoshide. It was also called the ``beauty of white space'' because of the generous amount of white space in the composition. Kakiemon-style vessels developed rapidly as colored porcelain for export, and many pieces made their way to Europe, and many imitations were made in Meissen kilns in Germany.
"Nabeshima clan kiln style"
It is characterized by its bluish background, comb height, and back pattern. The techniques include ``Colored Nabeshima'', which is based on dyeing and the three colors of red, blue, and green, ``Ainabeshima'', which is elaborately painted in indigo blue, and ``Nabeshima Celadon'', which is a natural blue-green color. Among them, ``Colored Nabeshima'' with an overglaze picture was used as tableware for the lord of the Saga domain and as gifts to various feudal lords and the shogunate. It can be said that the unique beauty of style was achieved because it was a domain kiln, and Ironabeshima, which brought together the best of the techniques of the time, boasts beauty that is representative of Arita, along with the Kakiemon style.
The difference between Imari ware and Arita ware is that porcelain made around Arita Town, Saga Prefecture is called Arita ware. During the Edo period, porcelain fired in Arita was exported from the port of Imari (Imari City), next door to Arita, so it spread throughout the country under the name Imari ware (Imari ware = Arita ware). Later, after the Meiji period, porcelain made in Arita came to be called Arita ware, named after the place where it was produced. Additionally, the term ``Old Imari'', which is often heard in antiques, refers to Arita ware made in the Edo period, and now Imari ware is made in Okawachiyama, Imari City.
Today, the town of Arita is dotted with many potteries, and even has a vocational school for learning pottery called the Ceramics College, with the aim of nurturing the next generation of potters. In addition, mining at Arita Izumiyama (Izumiyama, Arita Town, Saga Prefecture) has almost disappeared, and Amakusa pottery stone has become the mainstream in Kumamoto Prefecture, where it is easier to use.
*Bunroku/Keichō no Eki During the six years from 1592 to 1598 , Toyotomi Hideyoshi conquered the Ming Dynasty (present-day China). The war was aimed at invading Korea (present-day South Korea, North Korea). The first battle is called the ``Bunroku no Eki'' ( 1592 - 1593 ), and the second battle is called the ``Keicho Era'' ( 1597 - 1598 ). The battle ended in 1959 with the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi .