Mitsukuni Misaki: Beginning to breathe

Shoko Aono

16 September 2017

Blue oceans, endless skies, billowing clouds—a boundless world with a horizon separating earth from sky. Misaki’s works create an impression of limitless space and time, like an ever-expanding universe. Their slightly distorted forms are evocative of naturally sprouting seeds or fruit. Perhaps they remind us the mother’s womb that enveloped us so long ago. If we touch them, it is as if we can feel a pulse. Looked at in this way, we realise that Misaki’s works are both nostalgic and quiet, becoming life forms in their own right.

When he was young, Misaki planned to study law but when he entered university student radicalism was at its peak making it difficult for him to attend lectures. Contemplating the meaning of life, he set off on a wandering journey. Then in 1972, when he was 21 years old, he met the world-famous scholar of porcelain and pottery, Fujio Koyama (1900–1975). As an empirical researcher, Koyama had written numerous books on old pottery and in his latter years he built his own kiln, named hananoki, where he produced his own pots. As a result of this meeting, Misaki decided to devote himself to becoming a potter.

Living amidst the rapid changes of contemporary society, Misaki felt that he “wanted to live in a stationary time”, and pursue the images that rose naturally in his mind. He describes this condition as “rothkoing”, describing this as a state resembling the light emitted by colors in Mark Rothko’s paintings.

He does not use a wheel, preferring to build up his forms by hand, imbuing the surface with a feeling of tension while producing works that seem almost weightless. The colour is produced by using four layers of blue and white slip that he rubs into the surface of the clay. These are then fired at high temperature to produce huge, stoneware pots, that sometimes appear to resemble ships that will carry us away into vast distances.

This is Misaki’s first solo exhibition outside of Japan. It will be interesting to see how Misaki’s “life forms” will begin to breathe here in New York, where every shade of color is jumbled together and moves ahead at high speed. This is something to look forward to.

Shoko Aono, Ippodo Gallery (New York), graduated in Philosophy from the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo, and then received a Masters degree in Philosophy from Sophia University, Tokyo. In 2006 she started working at Ippodo Gallery, Tokyo and participated in La Biennale des Editeurs de la Decoration at the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. In 2008 she moved to New York and opened Ippodo Gallery New York, where she is currently working as director. She organises numerous exhibitions and participating in art fairs throughout the USA and Europe, promoting and fostering the finest of contemporary Japanese art crafts outside of Japan.

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