Serendipity

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kitaota_rosanjinScreen Shot 2013-05-06 at 3.04.51 PMFound this picture of me right next to a drawing of Rosanjin (one of my pottery heroes) and some of his pots. Really interesting guy. Here’s a link to his bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosanjin

Rosanjin or “the Art of the Eye”

Yoshitomo Kajikawa

Rosanjin was a man of the piercing inner eye.


There is no doubt that Rosanjin, a creative genius not only in ceramic art but also in calligraphy, seal engraving, lacquer-craft and painting, was also a superb man of the hand. To me, however, the artist appears to have been far more a man of the mind’s eye than a man of the hand. Rosanjin’s primary objective in his creative career was to test the furthest limits of the ability of the human eyes to appreciate beauty. Rosanjin could never forgive people who tended to blur those eyes. The artist’s scathing attack on the folk art movement headed by Soetsu Yanagi apparently had its source in this fact. Rosanjin had no support in his anti-folk art campaign and he is now branded a loser. I for one believe, however, that Rosanjin’s cause was a rightful one.
The most important fact about Rosanjin’s inner eye was that it waxed sharpest when it was turned on himself. He was keenly aware that, even if he was able to deceive others’ eyes, he would never be able to hoodwink his own inner eye. His frequent acts of arrogance were, it seems to me, nothing but forlorn expressions of frustration for his inability to ever tell sweet lies to himself. Isn’t a man of the inner eye another name for a die-hard disciple of beauty? By removing all the vanities from his life and recognizing no worldly authorities, Rosanjin offered his whole-hearted prayers to the altar of beauty.”I hope to make the world more beautiful, if by a tiny iota, ” Rosanjin once stated. “My work is only a modest outpouring of this desire of mine.”

Rosanjin died on December 21, 1959 at the age of 76.

I wonder what actually it is that the philosophies and their embodiments of this artistic genius, who never ceased questing for beauty in his life, are demanding of us today. What lessons should we learn from the turbulent life of Rosanjin, an artist who single-mindedly devoted himself to the task of turning beauty, an abstract idea, into concrete things and finally elevated his own life into a work of art?

This exhibition is only a fragment of my report on the life of a man who has been living among and actually using Rosanjin’s wares in his life for more than 30 long years. They simply express my joy of being able to share and create the living environments together with Rosanjin. Rosanjin, however, always has a powerful poison arrow of criticism ready for those who show the slightest signs of going slack in matters of beauty in life. I am always forced to feel the need of closely reexamining myself whenever I face Rosanjin’s works. There is always something new and exciting in Rosanjin’s wares, even in the ones I have been using repeatedly for a number of years. Rosanjin is constantly urging me to form my own firm view of life based on the words he loved most – beautiful and elegant life.
Even his single, tiny leaf-shaped Oribe dish sounds a harsh warning for us all who have lost our old mode of living and have not yet found a new one to replace it.

(Director, Kahitsukan – Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art)
(Translated by Atsuo Tsuruoka)

 

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