photo: SAIKI Taku

Jar, deep and brilliant glaze

ArtistTOKUDA Yasokichi III
Material/ Techniquecolor-glazed porcelain
Size/ DurationH33×φ39cm
Copyright Notice© TOKUDA Yasokichi IV
Year of acquisition/ donation2007
DescriptionBorn in Ishikawa, Japan in 1933. Died there in 2009.

Grandson of the first TOKUDA Yasokichi and son of the second, a ceramic artist, amid interactions and collaborations with artists across a broad range of genres Yasokichi III pushed the boundaries of contemporary ‘iro-e’ (overglaze enamel) Kutani ware. Using scientific methods based on traditional ‘Ko-Kutani’ (Old Kutani) techniques to conduct exhaustive research, in accordance with his unconventional belief that “changes in illustrative style are what Kutani tradition is all about,” Tokuda moved away from the previous Kutani predilection for nature scenes and traditional patterns, identifying a contemporary quality in the development of glazes purely as lustrous materials radiating vibrant colors, and in 1983 establishing an original style dubbed ‘yosai,’ literally ‘gleaming colors.’ In 1988 he took on the title Tokuda Yasokichi III, and in 1997 was designated a protector of Important Intangible Cultural Property (color-glazed porcelain).

Tokuda’s color-glazed porcelain vessels employ the basic colors of yellow, green, indigo blue and purple, ie the five traditional Kutani-ware colors excluding red. By studying the blending of glazes and developing a technique of firing at over 1000 degrees, he extended his palette to in excess of a hundred colors, thus achieving a quantum leap from the subdued, somber tones of the past to an extraordinary vibrancy. Through a body of work encompassing the two extremes of multi-hued yosai and monochromatic ‘shinko yosai’ (deep multicolored glaze) Tokuda tirelessly explored the possibilities of his highly original take on ceramic design. "Bowl, floral design, brilliant glaze" is an example of Tokuda’s yosai oeuvre in which 50 differentcolored glazes have been applied to the hard white ground of a large pot polished silky smooth, the flow of the glazes and gradations in color imparting a technicolor brilliance. Each of this group of eleven blue shinko yosai pieces, starting with "Pot, deep and brilliant glaze", exudes a taut intensity, and collectively they offer a dynamic demonstration of the changes in form testament to Tokuda’s broad artistic range.