2018 Clay Diameter 175mm Height 160mm
Ceramic Artist. Born 1981 in Fukuoka. Relocated to Tokyo in order to start a vintage clothing shop but gave up as he could no longer find good vintage items he liked. His interest instead turned to pottery, which led him to move to and learn pottery in Gifu prefecture, known for its thriving pottery scene, and joined Ishoken (Tajimi City Pottery Design and Technical Center). He now has an atelier in Mizunami-city in Gifu.
Artistry that deviates from crafts
Japanese sense of beauty: Japan’s long history of art and beauty is similar to that of Europe. Cultures such as Japanese tea ceremony and Zen, just to name a few, originate from the unique Japanese aesthetic. Of course, Japanese sense of beauty is still in the process of evolution. Today, a generation of young talents is creating something new, influenced by fashion or European and American cultures.
Takayuki Minami, known as the Director of Graphpaper and Hibiya Central Market, is one of the people who is drawn to this modern version of Japanese aesthetics. He travels nationwide to meet artists, and organizes exhibitions of his favorite artists at his shops to propel them further. We asked Minami to introduce the new generation artists to us. The first artist he chose is ceramic artist Youichi Shiraishi.
“I happened to see this piece on Instagram. It looked mysterious and somehow grabbed my heart. I wondered how it was created and what it actually was. I felt the power of this piece as an object. Soon after, I met him in person at an event called “Gathering of Tomoshibito” which was organized by an artist I know. I remembered his name, Shiraishi. So, when I noticed his name at the event, I rushed to his booth, but he was selling plates. Naturally at events like this, one sells items like plates and bowls… but then I spotted the object I have with me today behind the booth. It attracted me instantly and I purchased it. That’s how it started.
hat I find interesting about his work is that they belong somewhere in between craft and art. He strives to create while seeking new aspects of craftsmanship; I feel that this is very Japanese. His pottery wheel throwing techniques and his artisanal skills are very high, but he tries to move beyond that. I feel drawn to that spirit.
Shiraishi uses general pottery making process to create his work. Clay is placed inside a mold with a glaze and fired: This is a common method of basic pottery making. Putting clay carelessly inside the forms, adding glazes and firing them in kilns. There is no difference from this to making bowls or plates in terms of processes. However, each piece turns out differently by chance. I feel his artistic approach in this process. Traditionally pottery making is about reproducing products, making a lot of the same things. In contrary, he dares to use this traditional method to create unique individual pieces. This concept is no rocket science, but his ability to turn it into this object is quite amazing. He had been making plates while searching for an artistic direction on his own through trial and error. The result is not quite contemporary craft nor art. For me it’s art, but I find it interesting that it’s swimming somewhere in between.
I don’t think there are many people who float between being an artist and a craftsman in this world. In abroad, typically designers are designers, artists are artists, craftsmen are craftsmen and they don’t design. Many Japanese people come up with ideas, design and go through the entire process until the final output is completed. I think there lies the Japanese aesthetics and Japanese sense of beauty.
I think Shiraishi as a Japanese artist is a great representation of this.”
Creative Director for Hibiya Central Market and his own brand Graphpaper. He has been responsible for directing and branding many other shops. His strong sense of beauty towards authenticity is very well respected in the industry.
|Select Takayuki MInami
||Photo Masayuki Nakaya
||Translation Akiko Watanabe & Rei Matsuoka