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shimaoka retrospective in san diego

updated tue 5 sep 00


David McDonald on mon 4 sep 00

Just returned from the opening Friday night, at the Mingei International
Museum at Balboa Park, in San Diego. This exhibition showcases a profound
body of work from the life of Tatsuzo Shimaoka, Mashiko potter, and
Living National Treasure of Japan. Over 300 pieces are shown, from a
piece he did as a student of Shoji Hamada in 1949, to the present day.
The work ranges from small water droppers, used in caligraphy, to teacups
and teabowls and teapots, to larger thrown jars and platters. Most works
were done with the "Jomon Zogan", or rope impressed slip inlay technique,
which Shimaoka discovered and developed after setting up his studio near
Hamada's in the very early 1950's. Works exhibited include ash glazes,
salt glazes, high fired wares with low fired overglaze enamels (in the
Hamada/ Okinawan tradition), cone 10 oxidation and reduction fired
wares, pots which were unglazed going into the kiln, and fired in the
Bizen and Shigaraki style chambers of his noborigamas, where they were
influenced by the fly ash and charcoal during the firing.
This is a fantastic show, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who
has an interest in the works of this man, or an interest in the lineage
of the Mingei (folkcraft) movement.
I suspect that many craft artists, and especially potters in our time
are aware of the huge influence that Hamada, Leach, and Yanagi, had on
the modern world's acceptance, AND support for the craft traditions.
Shimaoka's work carries on in that lineage.
David McDonald
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