I will present today the work of the young Bizen-yaki traditional potter Yoshimoto Atsuo (and also one work by his father Shûhô).
Born in 1969, Atsuo first studied architecture before studying pottery at The Graduate School of Applied Arts Duperré in Paris from 1995 to 1997.
Then back to Japan, he studied under Yoshimoto Shûhô his father, Bizen-yaki pottery.
While pottery existed in Japan since the Jômon period (the oldest date back to 17,000 years ago), it’s the 5th century Korea arrives a new type of pottery, very hard, gray, reduction fired (baked without oxygen in the oven) , which is called “Sueki”. It is the ancestor of Japanese pottery, including Bizen-yaki. The very first Bizen ware style, at the end of the Heian period (late 12th century) are in the continuity of Sueki ware, reduce baked, and it’s the 13th century that we abandon reduction baking for oxidation baked pottery which take then their typical red-brown color.
Part of the work of Mr. Yoshimoto was inspired by the ancient Sueki and Bizen pottery. It works by reduce baking, using gray clay with a gas oven as well as an anagama oven he built in the mountains replicating the methods of the late Heian period. Actually, this is the father, Shûhô, who began many years ago experiences to reproduce ancient Bizen-ware technics.
First, here are four works by Atsuo (gray, reduce baked) and one by Shûhô (brown hôhin, usual oxide baked), baked in an anagama. With anagama firing, this is imossible to obtain two times the same pattern. Then three gas oven baked “kuro-hidasuk.” works by Atsuo.
The usual Bizen “hidasuki” technics create red patterns one clay obtained by wrapping straw around objects during the oxidation firing (indeed, obtaining the same pattern is almost impossible). But adapted to a reduction firing, this same technique reveals the black patterns.