Robert Yellin's Japanese Pottery Blog

Greetings from Kyoto, We've just moved our gallery into a magnificent old Sukiya style home located very near the Silver Pavilion; a stunning area and setting for the inspired ceramic art we share with the world. Please visit us if ever in Kyoto or online at and

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sugiura Yasuyoshi Exhibit at Musee Tomo, Tokyo

One of Japan's most distinctive--and fragile--potters is Sugiura Yasuyoshi. His ceramic flowers are exquisite works of art and also quite delicate, thus the fragility line. A wonderful look at recent Sugiura botanical creations is on view at the equally exquisite Musee Tomo in Tokyo. As always for an exhibition at the Musee Tomo, lighting works to highlight the beauty of the displays. From the catalog, "As a student at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Sugiura Yasuyoshi (b.1949) was inspired by a professor who said, "A ceramic is a stone." His starting point was unique in that be began making stones out of ceramic. Later on, his motif evolved from 'stone' to 'rock' and he has been presenting large-scale installations both indoors and outdoors. Another representative work by Sugiura would be 'Natural History of Ceramics," a series he has been working on since 2000. He observes lilies, camellias, and chestnuts through a loupe and reproduces them several times larger than their actual size showing the detailed structure of the plant as is. They convey the sense of wonder and awe the artist experiences in the making of nature. The delicate yet forceful impression we get from the works is no doubt the product of the images he has acquired by looking intently at the plants day by day as they take root in the earth despite being weatherworn. The exhibition galleries have been turned into an exquisite botanical garden full of ceramic rocks, flowers, and nuts with an emanating presence. We hope you will enjoy the plants created having undergone the baptism of flames" OK, not the best intro yet it should give you a sense of Sugiura's vision; if not then please do a search on to learn more about Sugiura and his unique vision. The exhibition features works made this year and thus is not a retrospective. It would have been nice to see some of his past works as well as more variety; 'the wall room' was a bit lonely. Sugiura Yasuyoshi at Musee Tomo until July 23, 2006. More information about the museum also available on e-y net; in Japanese here:
All photos copyrighted to Robert Yellin. If needed for outside publication please contact Robert; no use of these photos is permitted without permission.

Monday, April 17, 2006

"Recording the Flame: Woodfired Pottery"

Here is a link to an interesting documentary on wood-fired pottery:
The piece pictured here is an exceptional wood-fired Bizen vase by Yoshida Koichi offered on my web gallery as of today.
One of Japan's best ex-pat woodfirer potters is John Dix; his Tokyo exhibition is this week from April 19-April 23 at Gallery Shun (ph/03-3444-7665) in the Hiroo district of Tokyo. Do stop by if in the neighborhood to see some of John's recently wood-fired anagama creations. John's homepage is at

Thursday, April 13, 2006

70th Anniversary of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum

There are certain art works that one never forgets and we often come back to for inspiration. One such work that always brings me great joy-I have a postcard image next to my computer at home--is a wood statue by Mokujiki Shonin(1718-1810) in the collection of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo. It emits such profound delight and here-now wisdom and will be on display for a celebratory exhibition at the museum:
"In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, a special exhibition of approximately 400 treasures from the museum's collection with be on display. Yanagi Soetsu, the founder of the museum, collected about 17,000 pieces of art over a half century. This special exhibition focuses on the most exemplary handicrafts from Yanagi's collection, ranging from pottery and painting to textiles, dyed cloth, and woodwork. The exhibit will also highlight the calligraphy and writings of Yanagi, the beautiful bindings of Serizawa Keisuke, and the handicrafts of other beloved folk-craft artists. Exhibit pieces were selected that best reflect the Mingei philosophy of founder Yanagi Soetsu."
Surely an exhibition not to be missed, until June 25th, visit the Folk Craft Museum's homepage at
Harvey Young is a Mashiko potter that works within the work ethics of mingei and his sturdy-honest-beautiful work is a joy to use. His new homepage is up and can be visited at

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jun Kaneko/Selected Works 1989-2005

The first time I saw a work by Jun Kaneko was in Honoho Geijutsu; wow, check out those big dangos! A dango, by the way, is not something rude or to stare at yet is simply a rice cake dumpling in a ball form. Kaneko's dango are huge and polka dotted in bright colors, something quite unusual for a Japanese potter. Yet, Kaneko belongs more to the US than he does to Japan--you can read why in the following link. I also saw his work a few weeks ago in Tokyo when I visited the Park Hyatt Hotel in Roppongi. There by the elevators were two enormous heads that seemed to be eye-ballng all who strolled by. It's not often that Kaneko's work is shown in Japan and a fine chance to see some major works starts on April 15 until July 9 at the Museum of Modern Ceramics located in Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture. More about the exhibition and Kaneko can be viewed here:
A few words about the museum here:

I may add that Kaneko is good friends with two of the most creative ceramic artists in Japan today---Suzuki Goro and Koie Ryoji---the latter's exhibition online worldwide here

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fukami Sueharu Feature Article and Koie...

The wonderful ceramic magazine CERAMIC ART and PERCEPTION has as its feature article, and cover photo, the world of the Fukami Sueharu. Fukami is an artist I have the utmost respect and admiration for and he has brought a new world of beauty to ceramic lovers the world over; he truly is a treasure. C.A.P.'s HP is here:

I was in Gifu yesterday selecting Koie Ryoji pieces for our upcoming exhibition--online for public viewing April 10--and should have all photography done by tomorrow evening; stay tuned for some angama-fired yakishime Tokoname pots rarely seen.....along with Oribe and hikidashi-guro chawan. The front of Koie's gas kiln has this 'kiln beast' figure baked onto the front the sent shivers down my spine.....curled my hair some too!