Earth From Sky : Stoneware Works By Mitsukuni Misaki

Beginning to Breathe

 Shoko Aono

Blue oceans, endless skies, billowing clouds — a boundless world with a horizon separating earth from sky.  Misaki’s works create an impression of limitless space and time, like an ever-expanding universe.  Their slightly distorted forms are evocative of naturally sprouting seeds or fruit.  Perhaps they remind us the mother’s womb that enveloped us so long ago.  If we touch them, it is as if we can feel a pulse.  Looked at in this way, we realize that Misaki’s works are both nostalgic and quiet, becoming life forms in their own right. 

When he was young, Misaki planned to study law but when he entered university student radicalism was at its peak making it difficult for him to attend lectures.  Contemplating on the meaning of life, he set off on a wandering journey, then in 1972, when he was 21 years old, he met the world-famous scholar of porcelain and pottery, Fujio Koyama (1900–1975).  As an empirical researcher, Koyama had written numerous books on old pottery and in his latter years he built his own kiln, named hananoki, where he produced his own pots.  As a result of this meeting, Misaki decided to devote himself to becoming a potter.

Living amidst the rapid changes of contemporary society, Misaki felt that he ‘wanted to live in a stationary time’, and pursue the images that rose naturally in his mind.  He describes this condition as “rothkoing”, describing this as a state resembling the light emitted by colors in Mark Rothko’s paintings.  

He does not use a wheel, preferring to build up his forms by hand, imbuing the surface with a feeling of tension while producing works that seem almost weightless.  The color is produced by using four layers of blue and white slip that he rubs into the surface of the clay.  These are then fired at high temperature to produce huge, stoneware pots, that sometimes appear to resemble ships that will carry us away into vast distances. 

This is Misaki’s first solo exhibition outside of Japan.  It will be interesting to see how Misaki’s “life forms” will begin to breathe here in New York, where every shade of color is jumbled together and moves ahead at high speed.  This is something to look forward to.