The long-awaited solo exhibition of ceramic artist Masahiro Sakakura was held at Kakiden Gallery in Shinjuku, Tokyo, three years after his first solo exhibition in 2020. Masahiro is the heir to the historic pottery company “Sakakura Shinbei-gama Kiln” in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture. While respecting the tradition of the Fukawa-Hagi style and earnestly engaging with the materials, he fully demonstrates the sense of form that he cultivated at the Department of Sculpture at Tokyo University of the Arts. He is one of the most notable ceramic artists working today, creating works that blend tradition and individuality in a perfect way. This exhibition featured approximately 120 pieces, including his latest works.
“During my first solo exhibition, I remember it was a period when I was exploring my own style a bit away from the tradition of Hagi ware, so I went through a lot of trial and error in creating the exhibition. This time, the exhibition took place as my own style has been refined, and I approached it with confidence,” said Masahiro. One of the highlights of this exhibition, especially captivating for visitors, was the “Flower Vase” displayed in the gallery’s back room. This series, inspired by the tranquil beauty of rainwater and spring water gently flowing down rock and wood surfaces in the mountains, provided a moment of tranquility to those who visited, especially amidst the scorching heat.
Masahiro’s new tea bowls and sake cups all beautifully showcase the rich textures of the clay. In addition to the clay traditionally used for Hagi ware, Masahiro also uses clay he personally excavates in the mountains around him. This time, he also exhibited sake cups made from newly discovered clay. The rough, shiny finish, which ranges from brown to black, is recognized to be a texture that clearly provokes different responses. His passion for bringing out the unique character of the clay has not changed since his first solo exhibition.
Even as Masahiro’s vases and objets d’art respect the texture of the clay and glaze, many of his works are more impressive in terms of their sculptural aspects. Despite this there is no sense of pretention in his work, and his organic shapes, composed with just the right amount of finesse, are sure to tickle the viewer’s fancy. The work titled “Piece” is an objet d’art that has been soaked in persimmon tannin and bancha tea after firing to create an aged look. The saying “Hagi no nana-bake,” or “the seven transformations of Hagi,” is widely known in the world of tea ceremony ceramics, which sees beauty in the changing appearance of an object as it is used, a concept which has been cleverly incorporated into his sculptures.
Since his first solo exhibition, Masahiro has taken on the challenge of holding exhibitions on a variety of themes, including one featuring only tableware and another featuring only tea ware. Looking back on the path he has taken in each of these fields, he says that it has given him the desire to continue to refine his own work and develop each one further. We cannot take our eyes off this young standard-bearer of Hagi.
Written by Kyoko Tsutsumi
B2F, Yasuyo Building
3-37-11, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0002, JAPAN
Hours: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (Open every day during exhibitions / Close at 5:00 pm on the last day)
* Opening hours subject to change depending on the exhibitions. For more information, please refer to the exhibition page.