Modern Japanese Ceramics from the Ackland Art Museum Collection

October 19, 2012 - January 6, 2013

Ceramic flask

This installation of five distinctive ceramic works by Japanese artists of the twentieth century shows a range of inspirations, from folk art and tradition to the natural world.

A square flask by Shoji Hamada (left), one of the founders of the mingei movement of the 1920s, illustrates why some consider him to be an abstract expressionist. Two works by Shiro Tsujimura, a Zen Buddhist monk, continue the tradition of the tea ceremony, where plain, apparently unsophisticated vessels have been highly prized for centuries. Regularity and symmetry with a sensitivity to the natural world meet in Shôko Koike’s Flower Vase, as it breaks the boundaries between decorative art and sculpture. Like much of her work it is an abstract form that suggests shells and other ocean life. The grouping is rounded out by a porcelain box by Susumu Ikuta—a resident of North Carolina since 1978—depicting American plant and insect life in a sophisticated style derived from Japanese traditions of painting.

Image Credit: Shoji Hamada, Japanese, 1894-1977: Flat Square Flask with turquoise decoration, c. 1965; stoneware with wood-ash glaze. Ackland Fund.