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Post-War Japanese Contemporary Ceramics at Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd. 39 East 78th Street
November 9, 2010  | 


Continuing with her on-going effort to present cutting-edge contemporary Japanese ceramics, Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. will present three consecutive exhibitions illuminating the world of post-war contemporary ceramics in Japan. Never before has a comparable series of exhibitions of this magnitude been mounted by a gallery outside of Japan. 

“These three exhibitions represent over ten years of planning with careful negotiation and coordination with multiple Japanese sources. For a dealer anywhere to have one or possibly two works by any of these artists is rare enough, but to present such a large body of exceptionally rare material by these artists outside a museum is unprecedented,” said Mirviss.  “My aim is to awaken the West to the creative brilliance, amazing range, and exceptional technical mastery of these pioneering artists, long esteemed in Japan but relatively unknown elsewhere.”

The first show, which opens at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. on November 10th, is “Kondô Yutaka: The Transformation of a Traditional Kyoto Family,” created in collaboration with the Kondô family. This show focuses on the work of Kondô Yutaka (1932-83), a remarkable artist and gifted teacher who inspired many of today’s established clay artists in Japan, who was the pivotal figure in his ceramic family before his untimely death. Drawn from the family’s collection and offered for the first time, fourteen of his works will be seen in the context of his highly unusual heritage, both as a member of a Kyoto samurai family and as the son of the celebrated ceramist and designated Living National Treasure for cobalt blue-and-white (sometsuke) porcelain, Kondô Yûzô (1902-85). 

Perhaps in response to this heavy familial mantle of responsibility, Yutaka created a personal aesthetic vocabulary inspired by extensive foreign travels and teaching opportunities around the world. Early on, he was captivated by ancient Korean punch’ong ware (called mishima ware in Japanese) wherein the surface patterning is created through incising or stamping a repeated, intricate design that is then covered with white liquid slip that fills only the depressions after being scraped off the raised surface. He strove to create work that captured the simple beauty of Korean ceramics while simultaneously expressing a uniquely contemporary, poetic, and abstract sensibility. In many ways Yutaka’s life and work may be seen as the pivotal element which brought the Kyoto based Kondô family into the twenty-first century, as embodied in the achievements of his nephew, the international artist Kondô Takahiro (b. 1958) who will be represented with numerous recent works illustrating his artistic relationship to the senior artist-members of his distinguished family.

Now the third generation in this celebrated line of clay artists, Kondô Takahiro recently commented, "My uncle Yûtaka had a big influence on me, both in his life and through his death, and having the opportunity to remember him through this exhibition, with my work and his shown together, is very meaningful for me. He would have been very pleased too." He further explained, "I am very conscious that having passed fifty, I am now just about the same age he was when he died. The effect of his death on my life was that I went from being a table tennis champion to rejoining the world of ceramics that he had so suddenly departed. I find myself thinking of our lives and how they intersected, overlapped and diverged.”

In total, the exhibition will have more than forty works available including several from the family collection by the grandfather, Yûzô, and brother, Hiroshi. This show is accompanied by a fully illustrated, thirty page booklet with two essays. Complementing this show will be the exhibition “Takahiro Kondo: Reflection” at Barry Friedman Ltd. 515 West 26th Street New York, NY from Nov. 12 –Jan. 20, 2011.

For visuals or further information, please contact Marilyn White at 973-783-3649 or; alternatively at the gallery, Nami Dunham at 212-799-4021 or