Atsushi Takagaki: Into the Deep / Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo
October 30 – November 8, 2014
Technique is merely a means to an end. The end? The manifestation of the sublime—a beauty that can stand the tests of time and has the power to move, no matter the age, heritage, or creed. Celadon artist Atsushi Takagaki has effectively eschewed 40 years of research and artistry in the realm of celadon to strive for new vistas in black stoneware. With great courage, into the deep.
For centuries, celadon was considered the most difficult of ceramic styles to master, in part due to the adversities imposed by the fickleness of celadon glaze. In fact, Takagaki makes approx. 80 different batches of celadon glaze to use for a single piece, as the slightest variation in kiln and room temperatures, humidity or other factors will destroy the purity of the glaze and ruin an entire work. Celadon requires numerous coats of glaze that are applied with the utmost care, layer by layer. For this reason, different glazes are needed for different stages in glazing, and each coat must be perfectly balanced or else the subtle hues will be skewed.
Takagaki’s recent works are the culmination of his glazing techniques, in that he has invented an innovative new way to have two different coats of celadon glaze co-exist within a single piece – one glaze is traditional, while the other features hints of scarlet. This sublimely original glazing, combined with his minimal, angular forms, places Takagaki in a far different aesthetic plane than his contemporaries.
Originally conceived by imperial craftsmen for the delectation of kings and emperors, celadon is a legendary and historic form of glazed stoneware widely considered by critics and connoisseurs to be one of the great treasures of Chinese civilization. The artistry behind the notoriously difficult celadon glazing remains with us today in the likes of skilled contemporary artists such as Atsushi Takagaki (b. 1946). Yet unlike the masters of old, Takagaki has rejuvenated the style with his many experiments into unlocking the mysteries of celadon glazing, allowing the artist to create sparkling yet subtle scarlet hues buried within serene seas of celadon green.
Wielding original, asymmetrical forms that directly confront the almost mechanical execution of medieval celadon, the stature of Takagaki as a celadon artist has grown exponentially in the past several years, in part due to his receiving the Award of Excellence at the Asahi Ceramics Exhibition in 2005 and at the 2nd Kikuchi Biennale in 2007.
Gallery hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11am – 6pm. Final day closes at 4 pm.
Annecy Aoyama 1F
Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062
Above: Atsushi Takagaki, Genkaku (The Depths), 2014, Stoneware, red and black slip, celadon glaze, 23.5 x 14 x 44 cm.