Kimura Moriyasu 木村盛康

by Robert Yellin

Losing oneself in space by gazing into a tenmoku bowl is not as hard as it sounds, especially when it’s the work of master tenmoku ceramic artist Kimura Moriyasu (b.1935). The lustrous, serenely iridescent colors found in a Kimura bowl delight the senses and often bring stillness and wonder to the mind, as if you’re holding something sacred.

Tenmoku is one of the most challenging styles of ceramic art to produce. The three most important factors that go into making tenmoku are difficult to manage. First, the proper clay must be found and processed. Next, the glaze recipe must be a perfect match for the unique clay body. Finally, the artist must be able to control the firing. It takes years and years to even come close to mastery, and in all of Japan there are only a few close to Kimura in his dedication and ability to create tenmoku of unwavering beauty.

Tenmoku is the Japanese word for a type of tea bowl first produced in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The first mention of tenmoku occurs in a Japanese document in 1335 by Onkei Soyu. In the 13th century, the Ashikaga shoguns (1338 to 1568) held tenmoku and celadon in the greatest esteem and this reverence reached its peak during the reign of the 8th shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1369-1395).

It’s important to know a bit of history for this most revered style. Kimura has added so much to the tenmoku tradition with both his unique “sky-tenmoku” and his yuteki (oil-spot) tenmoku featuring layers and layers of shimmering blues. As Kimura says, “There’s a richness and depth of hues that one never tires of; it’s like looking into a beautiful night sky full of stars or gazing at photos of Andromeda.” In fact, Kimura has created a new style of tenmoku that he calls Tenmoku Andromeda. The riveting beauty of this style has won the admiration of many around the world, including numerous museums.

For over fifty years Kimura has dedicated his life to the beauty of tenmoku. He combines the skills of a craftsman with the vision of an artist in all he does. “Even when I fail—and there have been total losses of a kiln firing—I keep moving forward. I want to create tenmoku that stand the test of time and bring joy to those who view my creations.” Looking at these photos, perhaps you can see he’s already achieved that.

(Kimura will be celebrating his kiju—77th birthday—Tenmoku exhibition from June 12 to June 18 at Takashimaya, Osaka’s sixth floor art gallery. He’ll be in the gallery every day until around 5. Come meet this gentle master.)







Share and Enjoy:     These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Propeller
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis

Comments are closed.