Potter: Zenko Yasuda, Masahiro
Approximate size: W4.7″ by H2.5″ or 12.0 by 6.5 cm
This is a unique wheel-thrown chawan by Kyoto master potter Zenko Yasuda. The bowl is special in a number of ways, first being the fact it is the only chawan with this particular style of glaze I’ve come across. This appears to be a design of his that he most typically used for items smaller in size, namely yunomi — tea cups. Secondly this chawan has no outwardly carved koudai or foot-ring. Instead it has what is known as a ‘gokezoko-gata’ koudai, a foot that is indented in the bottom of the chawan. Lastly, the yellow glaze that is drawn upon has a particularly subdued yet extremely detailed set of colours to it. I can only think of the comparison with the quality old tv’s had, where looking up close you would find out everything is actually made up of the 3 colours one pixel could be set at (which were red, green and blue). On top of the yellow ground glaze is an abstract tenmoku oil-spot type drawn by hand and although appearing random or criss-cross, it has a certain amount of consistency and a semi-regularly pattern.
Zenko Yasuda, who’s real name was Masahiro Yasuda was born in Kyoto in 1926. Yasuda Zenko studied at the Kyoto Craft & Fabric University where he specialized in the making and building of kilns. Afterwards he studied pottery under the 6th Kiyomizu Rokubei (1901-1980). After going independent he build a kiln called Rokushin No Kama in Kyoto. Zenko Yasuda created unique and distinctive stoneware using complex glazing techniques. He passed in 2011 at the age of 86. A well respected 20th century Japanese potter.
Kyo yaki or Kyo ware refers to a style of ceramics that spread from the Higashiyama area in Kyoto during the early Edo period of the Tokugawa rule (henceforth this family line continually ruled Japan for more than 250 years). It was around this time that the art of Chanoyu or the Tea ceremony became popular and widespread in Japan. By contrast, the pottery produced along Gojo-zaka, a street leading to Kiyomizu Temple, was called Kiyomizu yaki. Nowadays all pottery produced in Kyoto is commonly referred to as Kyo or Kiyomizu ware.
In a nutshell, Bunten and Teiten were official, state-controlled, juried art exhibitions. Nitten replaced them after the war. The meaning of these official exhibition societies for the world of Japanese arts was pretty comparable to the French Salon in the second half of the nineteenth century. The conservative Salon was the institution most hated by the French impressionists – their works were regularly rejected by the jury. And without a representation by the Salon, an artist had hardly any chance to sell anything to private collectors.
Zenko Yasuda (1926-2011), first displayed nationally at the Nitten in 1950. He was awarded the prestigious Japan Ceramic Society Award in 1958 and was subsequently collected by the Metropolitan Museum of New York in 1963. Awarded at the Nitten in 1964 followed by the National Modern Crafts Exhibition in 1967 and collected by Japanese Government in 1971 (Gaimusho). A Private Exhibition of the artists work was held in San Francisco in 1978, a rarity for a Japanese artist at that time.
After receiving the Japanese Ceramic Society Prize and ever since then, Zenko Yasuda participated at the Nitten and later served as a member of the jury. His work was acquired by Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1964 and the Museum of Modern Art in Shiga prefecture boasts no less than 10 of his works in their permanent collection.
After the end of the Pacific war the attribute Imperial was no longer trendy. Everything was reorganized and renamed. In 1946 the Imperial Art Academy became The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition, abbreviated as Nitten. The Nitten developed into a larger organization that features multiple departments. Today the Nitten has five art faculties, Japanese Style Painting, Western Style Painting, Sculpture, Craft as Art and Calligraphy.
The chawan is stamped by the potter on the foot of the bowl. There are no chips or cracks and condition is very good. This tea bowl does not come with a box.
Thank you very much!
Those interested can follow this link to see an overview of award winning works at the 2001 exhibition held by the Japan Ceramic Society (Nihon Toji Kyokai). Amongst the winners were Living National Treasures, Intangible Cultural Treasures – simply some of the greatest and most famous artists including our subject potter Zenko Yasuda.