Manji Inoue

Mystical White Porcelain-:Living National Treasure, Manji Inoue, Returns to his Second Home-America

September 12, 2012 - October 13, 2012
Opening Reception & Artist Talk : September 12(Wed) at 6-8pm
Manji Inoue

*A special lecture organized by Japan Society and moderated by Soyoung Lee, 'Life of White Porcelain' : September 10 (Mon) 6:30pm at Japan Society

**The moderator, Ms. Soyoung Lee, is the Associate Curator for Korean Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ippodo Gallery NY is proud to announce that Manji Inoue, recognized as a Living National Treasure for his work in white porcelain, will be holding his first solo exhibition in the U.S. from September 12 to October 13, 2012. Inoue was born in the town of Arita, Saga Prefecture, which is situated on the island of Kyushu, the most westerly region of Japan and the closest point to the Asian continent, resulting in it having long been influenced by the cultures of not only Korea and China, but also Europe. Arita is famous for the production of white porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue or overglaze red decoration, but Inoue concentrates on beauty of the basic plain white porcelain. He carefully selects the porcelain stone he uses and finishes each work in a unique transparent glaze. He ensures that there is not a single flaw, dark speck or distortion, imbuing his works with awe-inspiring elegance, combined with a sense of purity and tension.
A lecture will be held at the Japan Society on September 10 (Mon), prior to this exhibition, then on September 12 (Wed) an opening reception will be held at Ippodo Gallery N.Y. to be attended by Mr. Inoue who will also present an artist talk. The exhibition at Ippodo Gallery will consist of 40 works, including the round pots, 'crane-necked' flower vases, and gourd-shaped jars that are representative of his oeuvre, in addition to various other bowls and plates.

Inoue says, 'White porcelain possesses an inherent beauty without additional decoration, the shape itself provides the design'. In other words, it can be said to be 'form as beauty'. He does not copy classical works, he intuitively captures shapes from nature that are the ultimate in simplicity, rotund yet sublime. The form he finally arrived at in white porcelain, his 'Round Pot', appears to defy gravity in the way it swells outwards, but then to yield as it sags, bursting with freshness like an egg. While he was in his sixties, he traveled to Jingdezhen in China, a town famous as the 'Porcelain Capital', to study the techniques practiced there. As a result of this, he has since produced white porcelain works with carved designs as well as applying green glaze to create carved celadon. However, this kind of decoration is applied solely to highlight the beauty of the white porcelain, employing modest, quiet subjects such as barley or flowers. Furthermore, unlike traditional celadon that utilizes a black paste, he applies the glaze to white porcelain, creating a pale, peppermint green that possesses a grace of type hitherto unseen.

Born in 1929, he volunteered to join the Naval Aviation Preparatory School at the age of 15, and having lived through the chaos of wartime and Japanese postwar society, he knows what it means to put his life on the line and possesses a samurai spirit. Praying for his friends who died during the war while blaming himself for having survived, this spirit has carried him through his disciplined life as a ceramic artist. After the war, at the age of 16, he decided to take up pottery to help the family business and was apprenticed to the famous Arita potter, Kakiemon Sakaida XII. Then later he trained under Chūemon Okugawa I, a master of the pottery wheel. He subsequently devoted himself to his work, turning vast numbers of pots as he developed his exquisite wheel technique. He distinguished himself from an early age, and while he was still in his forties, was honored with the task of throwing a huge decorative pot, 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall for the new Imperial Palace. Even today, this pot presents an imposing appearance in the Palace. He went on to receive numerous awards, becoming famous both at home and abroad, and in addition to Japan, he has held exhibitions in Germany, Hungary, Monaco, Portugal and Poland. In 2000 he participated in an exhibition at the British Museum for which he received worldwide attention.

Inoue has worked positively to nurture subsequent generations of potters, particularly in the U.S. where he has continued to offer instruction in pottery for almost 40 years. From 1969 to 1976 he served as a lecturer on Arita ware at Pennsylvania State University. Then in 1980 he taught ceramics at California State University and New Mexico State University, and it is said that he has had over 700 students. Coming into contact with these students, who approach their clay with childlike innocence, Inoue realized that he should not 'confine himself to the old ideas of tradition, but always aim to give birth to something new'. It was this experience of meeting students who possessed a free creativity, unfettered by history that caused him to consider America to be his 'second home'. Today, at the age of 83, he continues to work vigorously while next to his studio there stands a study house where he mixes with all kinds of people who have committed themselves to supporting the future of the ceramics world.
Inoue's love of humanity imbues the simple forms of his work with an extra softness and makes the purity of his white glaze appear mystical; they appear filled with the radiance of new-born life. Inoue's white porcelain represent the life forms that are born on the blue planet of Earth, holding within them both sadness and joy.