This week we are introducing a closer look at artist Noriyuki Furutani’s Tenmoku tea bowls.
From the time drinking tea became popular among the Japanese people, tenmoku was the teabowl of choice, only for those who could afford such a rare item. These special bowls are originally only served to noble men, such as emperors on special occasions. Originally imported from China, these black-glazed teabowls were first brought back to Japan by Japanese priests, who first used them at a temple on Mt. Tianmu (Tenmoku in Japanese) in China.
Noriyuku Furutani (b. 1984) is a master of tenmoku. Furutani creates simple, yet elegant forms using a potter's wheel but focuses mainly on the ceramic glaze. Here is where the magic happens. The elements of random and haphazard collide uniformly into beautiful designs. Most of the pieces we see contain a dark charcoal backdrop. This is the signature marking of quick artisans. Furutani rapidly cools the piece which allows for the formation of surface crystals. While this aesthetic may look easy because of the random appearance, it actually quite difficult to produce.
Tenmoku is also known as 'hare's fur' effect. When there is an excess of iron oxide, oil spot effects appear on the surface. As you slightly tilt the bowl from side to side, the colors glisten and are padded together like clumps of animal hair.
Can you see how each piece differs in color and shape? These shapes are uniformed, bold, colorful, and categorized by earthy tones. Tea masters who developed the Japanese tea ceremony promoted the aesthetics underlying tenmoku pottery. Furutani’s tenmoku teabowls contain a tasteful, and iridescence signature.
The rustic brown and black colors collide as they blend together to form an even splattering effect. The solid brown base creates a steady base as the volatility of the speckles dance above. Some might consider this piece an example of a mishap but Furutani embraces the mistake.
Here the tiger eye draws the viewer’s gaze directly into the the center of the tea bowl. The lovely orange and brown combination warms the mind, body and soul. Just image holding this in your hands on a hot summer's day.
Black, green, read and silver oil spots burst onto the surface of this tea bowl. Imagine enchanting green tea heating up the bowl from within.
Here we see an iridescent glaze that doesn’t resemble the other tea bowls. The purple, green, and blue hues decorate the surface of the bowl like Louis Comfort Tiffany’s favrile glass. Furutani only keeps a limited number of teabowls he creates. This is an example of one of the lucky ones.
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