Beauty of Life : The Debut Exhibition of Ceramic Works by Yuki Hayama in collaboration with Joseph Carini Carpets
Yuki Hayama— A Ceramic Paradise
Yuki Hayama is an exceptional artist whose ceramics resemble gleaming, finely polished gemstones. Those who see these works of ceramic art are drawn into an uncanny world, unable to discern the era or the land in which they were produced but enchanted by the energy they embody. To those of us who live in this irreplaceable moment, they communicate both a deep history and a grand narrative that connect us with the future.
The brushwork is stunningly delicate, with multiple lines of cobalt blue appearing in spaces barely a millimeter wide. The motifs appear swiftly, without underdrawings, emerging from memory through the artist’s subtle sensibility and masterly hand. Those motifs or patterns cover the whole of the jars and bowls, even the invisible undersides of the plates. Layers of rich colors are built up in repeated firings so that every piece is fresh and full of vitality. The Beauty of Life, the theme of this exhibition, includes every living thing in the natural world; flowers in full bloom, animals leaping across the land, trees, arabesques, and fish dancing in the water. His motifs appear to leap out from his ceramics, to free themselves and enter a three-dimensional world. In Hayama’s patterns, every line is saturated with a vital spirit, a prayer and a universal love of humanity, all captured in a living but ordered cosmos. These works show us the paradise to which humans, facing death, living in a world of chaos, nonetheless continue to aspire.
Hayama was born in 1961 in Arita, a historic Japanese ceramic center. At the age of fifteen, while both head and hand were young and flexible, he began learning to throw pots on the potter’s wheel and to decorate them by painting on them (etsuke). Through years of dedicated study, he has built unprecedented skills. His intense questioning of why, for whom, and how became the source of his creativity. He wants to bring light to the humanity he loves, to create work that will be eternally beautiful, even if broken into fragments. That passion is, to him, a divine mission. Through research on ceramic chemistry and glazes, he has achieved his unique technique for creating fine gold lines. Manipulating minerals like an alchemist, he has set off a revolution in the five-thousand-year-old tradition of painted porcelain.
To create living motifs, he closely studies history, learns from classical models, and immerses himself in the civilizations and spiritual worlds of humanity. Following in the footsteps of predecessors whose works have been described for thousands of years in myth and legend, Hayama finds a compass that points toward the future, and his own fantastic narrative is born. In it, he sings of humanity’s fragility and strength. Little by little, the characters that appear in his tales take form and become his motifs. Only then does Hayama replace his pen with the painter’s brush and turn to the potter’s wheel.
Hayama’s first exhibition in America will be held at a space shared with Joseph Carini Carpets, in Tribeca in New York City. When Hayama visited America last year, he met Carini, and the two discovered a shared passion for creativity and for living in harmony with nature that launched their collaboration. In the past, culture flowed east and west along the Silk Road. Now, in New York City, where Hayama’s porcelains and Carini’s textiles come together, a new nexus is formed heralding an inspiring and resplendent east-west symphony.
Ippodo Gallery is pleased to present Beauty of Life¸ the debut exhibition in the US of ceramic works by Yuki Hayama. Hayama’s ceramics are exceptional, characterized by careful patterns, with meticulous attention to detail acting as a meditative aim for a better world. He personifies the forces of nature - water, flowers, trees, animals, sky, earth - across 20 works. All are encapsulated in every single bowl. Large and small, pots and dishes, each ceramic piece is shaped as a sphere, further expressing universality in design as clearly as technique. Hayama further aids in the understanding of his work with supplemental literature, explaining the hidden meanings in the patterns. He is unparalleled in the world of ceramics.
Hayama was just 15 when he began working at a pottery studio in his home area of Arita, Saga Prefecture, the leading producer of porcelain in Japan. Born in 1961 with his birth overshadowed by tragedy, he channeled his circumstances into a determination to love others and art, using ceramic craftsmanship as a vehicle to spread peace. More than an artist, Hayama is also a historian and a writer who integrates these aspects into his work. Throughout his process, he contemplates humanity's existence. He researches extensively to determine the artwork’s theme, then researches the theme in-depth. Conceptualizing, he writes a story, crafting a narrative on which the work is based. By writing, the image is formed in his mind. He has even published his own picture books and novels. His stories often tell of mankind’s hopes, joys and sorrows, of tomorrow and the distant past. After a thorough exploration, the craftsmanship begins. These innovative works express a contemporary vision, employing the traditional technique of ‘God Hand’ often used in Arita, and Hayama pours a special quality of humanity into his creations. And while humanity may be ephemeral, but one appeal of ceramics is its permanence.
After years of hard work, Hayama’s single-minded and harmonic approach to art eventually led to great acclaim. Ever the modest, humble craftsman, Hayama continues to work diligently to honor his art. He first set up his own kiln at age 23 in Yamauchi-cho in Saga Prefecture, holding his first solo show five years later in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, in 1990. Since then, his work has shown all around Japan, with international exposure in Helsinki, Finland as well. More recently, Hayama’s works were shown in New York alongside other ceramic artists at the Museum of Arts and Design, in the exhibition, Japanese Kogei | Future Forward. It is an undeniable truth that the world created by Yuki Hayama embodies the diversity of the rich cultures of the world.
There are no preliminary drafts nor preemptive paintings for Hayama’s etsuke, or porcelain painting. Instead, as is the case in the work Ten Thousand Flowers, the artist works from memory of 128 exactingly practiced patterns. The etsuke art form is also strongly rooted in colors — with just five colors of hand-ground traditional glaze, 72 can be achieved through layering. The glaze is fired 12 times to achieve its beautiful sheen. The final product seeks to tell tales of the mystical, natural world, referencing the distant past to create future joy. Failure is not tolerated.
These themes are illuminating, providing a compass for life and for future hopes. But do vessels capture life? “Among the records of mankind’s strength, bravery, weakness and fragility, I discovered the permanence of ceramics,” Hayama writes, “Even when broken, fragments of ceramics remain, never to be totally destroyed but serving as a bridge between the past and the people of the future.”
In league with Hayama’s own interest in unity, Ippodo is collaborating with carpet producer and native New Yorker Joseph Carini. The works will be shown at Carini’s Tribeca space. In harmony with Hayama, Carini is collaborating with artisans from Southeast Asia to create beautiful carpets. The carpet artisans use techniques from Nepal and Tibet with natural botanical dye and weaving to complement and incorporate Hayama’s patterns. Carini believes the dyes truly inject energy into the carpets and inspire the viewer. Carini and Hayama share a passion for lasting handmade craftsmanship, and combined their interest in methodology of dyes and glazes, as well as their mutual respect for nature’s gifts, in this show. Carini chose a blues palette made from pure high quality Indigo to compliment the Hayama’s designs.
Founded in 1997, the eponymous carpet company strives to bridge old and new with contemporary pieces. Carini has become a leader in his field over time, remaining committed to innovative designs while maintaining the truly ancient and secret techniques. The result is contemporary carpets infused with a bygone quality and heritage rare to find in the modern world, appealing to both the eye and the heart.
Ippodo Gallery continues to showcase artists spreading peace through interpretations of the natural world, both aesthetically and intellectually serene. The discipline spent to create these masterworks is driven by rectitude and prayer, resulting in a long-lasting work of beauty.