"New Ceramics Laboratory Ryota Aoki's Nippon!” Exhibition

Ippodo Gallery

poster for "New Ceramics Laboratory Ryota Aoki's Nippon!”  Exhibition

This event has ended.

Ryota Aoki was born in 1978. He dresses in Comme de Garcons fashions, wears a turban and ear piercings and works in a studio that looks like a secret hide-away with made-in-Japan rap blaring in the background. But what he does there is to engage in a conversation with the soil of Japan, with its earth. Aoki is a potter who has brought the refined and super-conservative ivory tower world of ceramics, remote from contemporary Japan, into the middle of cutting-edge street culture. In his 20s, Aoki did not have a fancy academic pedigree; he had made and placed clothing and jewelry in boutiques and apprenticed in a beauty salon, but neither job lasted long. While attending a pottery class in his spare time, Aoki was suddenly inspired with a vision of being a potter covered in clay and creating beauty -- and on the spot, he set his sight on becoming a first class potter.

For Japanese ceramics, the soul of Japan's traditional aesthetic flourished in the 16th and 17th century. At that time, the Way of Tea reached unprecedented level of refinement and the generals of the Warring States period competed for famous utensils. Aoki learned about the remarkable activities of these potters from a popular serialized manga and has been tireless in sharing their achievements with the people of his generation. “The ceramic arts degenerated because people were only trying to reproduce things like the Shino and Oribe pieces that were made in the Momoyama Period.” Aoki says, “My role is to inherit the spirit of the Momoyama Period and make pottery that fits in with our world today.” By creating a network of potters about 30 years old, he is making steady progress in building up the kind of momentum that existed 400 years ago.

In Aoki's studio, there is an array of beakers containing various clays and glazes; and when he discovers a new material or color, he is tireless in trying this or that scientific experiment until he can re-create them. In that spirit, the theme of his first exhibition here at ippodo New York is “The New Ceramics Laboratory.” It provides a multi-faceted view of Aoki's experiments with clays, temperature, texture, glazes, techniques (mold or wheel) and size. One example is “Bijoux” which joins two bowls created after returning from a half a year studying in Switzerland.

Aoki learns from the structural beauty of Lucie Rie's work, from the ultra thin-walled porcelains of Taizo Kuroda and from the creations of historical potters such as Koetsu in order to create contemporary ceramics –“Ima-yaki” ("Today's Ware”). Keiji Ito, a philosopher-like potter, has had a great influence on Aoki's thinking. Aoki emulates Ito's efforts to create refined beauty from the awe of nature that constitutes the primitive creative impulse -- primitive man consigning to the flames an implement to be offered to the gods.

Interest in Aoki's story is such that a Japanese documentary TV-maker has been chronicling his life, and this New York exhibition will be the final segment. And toward the end of July, Sen So'oku, the future Grand Master of the Mushakoji Senke Traditional School of Tea, is planning to use Aoki's tea utensils in a thought-provoking Tea in the Gallery.



from July 02, 2009 to August 31, 2009

Opening Reception on 2009-07-02 from 18:00 to 20:00


Ryota Aoki

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