Potter: Kenji Takenaka
Approximate size: W 4.5″ by H 10.0″ or 8.5 by 8.0 cm
These types of works are very difficult to come by. I had this yunomi made to order which took over a year and a half and two firings (I am assuming the first selection did not turn out to his satisfaction or were lacking elsewhere). The works produced in the second firing were all standouts when compared to other works in this style. It is unknown to me how long he has been producing this type of work or when he first exhibited these but comparing images – most are simply lacking the artistic quality this specific firing produced.
Of exceptionally high quality kuro or black Bizen with a striking design in his red glaze. This yunomi was made by Bizen potter Kenji Takenaka. Hexagonal in form, the six sided are shaped to create three smooth and three ribbed surfaces. This ex jeweler made the switch in the middle of his career and is now a full time potter. Please see the following summary of his life. I dare say this cup has some of his best workmanship available and holding and using it it will be very clear why even even though starting potting late in life, he is now highly acclaimed.
1957 Born in Okayama city
1988 He studied under Jun Isezaki who was designated as Living National Treasure
He received a prize in the Issuikai exhibition
1989 He received a prize in the molding exhibition of the tea ceremony at the Tanabe Museum of Art
Subsequently awarded the prize 4 more times
He received a prize in the Asahi ceramic art exhibition
He received the Encouragement Prize in the Okayama art exhibition
Subsequently awarded the Encouragement Prize twice more
He received Sanyo Newspaper Publisher Prize in the Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition, Chugoku Area
1990 He received a Prize of Prefecture in Okayama art exhibition
Subsequently awarded the Prize of Prefecture twice more
He received a prize in the Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition at Chugoku Area
Subsequently awarded the prize 5 more times
1991 He received a prize in Okayama art exhibition
Subsequently awarded the prize 6 more times
He publicly received a prize in Yakishime Pottery exhibitions
1993 He make hole and semi-underground type kiln in Kibi chuo-cho, Okayama
1994 Fired kiln for the first time
1995 He received a Mayor Okayama Prize in Okayama art exhibition
He held a private exhibition at Kurodatouen Ginza
Subsequently awarded the prize 6 more times
1997 He held a private exhibition in studio Ikuko
Subsequently held another exhibition at this venueHe received a prize in the Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition
After that he was awarded the prize once more
1998 He held a private exhibition at the Tenmaya in Okayama
2000 He held a private exhibition at the Bizen Gallery Aoyama
After that it was held 4 more times
2005 He submitted to the Japan and France modern Ceramic Art Exhibition
2006 He held a private exhibition at Bunkindo
2007 He held a private exhibition at the Gallery Tosei
Held private exhibition at the same venue twice more
2008 He held a private exhibition at the Gallery Matsuyama
2010 He held a private exhibition at Mitsukoshi in Nagoya
2011 He received a Sanyo Newspaper Publisher Prize in the Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition of the Chugoku Area
He received a special award of Prefecture in Okayama Art Exhibition
2012 He received a Mayor Okayama Prize in the Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition of the Chugoku Area
2013 He joined in the Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition of the Chugoku Area
And many other private exhibitions are held in various regions.
Bizen is one of the six oldest remaining Japanese pottery traditions. In that area and town, for more than a thousand years, potters have been producing a sober yet strong looking wood fired ceramic. This rustic pottery whose age gives it a noble air is still popular today in Japanese homes and restaurants alike. This type of ware Kenji Takenaka is known for is clearly a departure from the traditional Bizen qualities, yet in your hands the qualities Bizen is known for are still palpable, Bizen with a modern twist.
Bizen ware is a type of Japanese pottery most identifiable by its iron-like hardness, reddish brown color, absence of glaze and markings resulting from wood-burning kiln firing. The clay used for Bizen ware has a high iron content and traditionally has a lot of organic matter in it that is unreceptive to glazing. The clay can take many forms while retaining its strength. The surface treatments of Bizen wares are traditionally entirely dependent on yohen or kiln effects produced by the wood firing. Pine ash produces goma, or “sesame seed” glaze and rice straw wrapped around pieces creates red and brown scorch marks called hidasuki. The placement of pieces in a kiln causes them to be fired under different conditions, with a variety of different results. Considering that one clay body and type of firing is used, the variety of results is remarkable.
This yunomi, signed by the potter has no chips or cracks and is in mint condition. Comes with the original high quality paulownia tomobako, storage box with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the outside of the lid. Includes a dedicated tomonunu or tea cloth and a pamphlet about the potter. This has for years been one of my most closely guarded vessels and I can’t recommend his work enough.
€350 + shipping cost
Bizen wares are fired slowly over a long period of time. Firings take place only once or twice a year. They require the kiln fire to be kept lit and burning for approximately 10 to 14 days involving long hours and literally tons of wood.