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Masaomi Yasunaga

Utsuwa no Kokkaku / Skeleton of a Vessel, 2019
Glaze, porcelain and clay
9 1/8 x 13 x 5 1/2 inches
Contributed by Nonaka-Hill

Ceramics are a vital source of information about ancient cultures – offering our best, and often only, record of their existence. Pot shards, deposited in the earth over successive centuries, help researchers to establish the chronology of the sites they study, as well as yielding insights about their makers’ cultural practices and sometimes, their spiritual beliefs. Masaomi Yasunaga, who is based in the historic ceramic center of Iga (in Mie Prefecture, Japan), summons this fundamental connection between his chosen discipline and the deep past. In the late 16th century, Iga potters began making the most experimental of all tea ceremony wares: lopsided vases with lug ears, water jars with walls like landslides, tea bowls like battle remnants, with dents and gouges in their walls. Yasunaga draws on and amplifies this tradition. He builds his sculptures primarily from glaze materials, so that they melt nearly into slag in the kiln; then buries them in sand, soil, or rocks, allowing these diverse materials to adhere to the molten glaze. Finally, when they are cool, he “excavates” the forms – a moment of discovery as revelatory as that experienced by any archaeologist.

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