Ariyama Reiseki, ‘Flower Vase’, ca. 1990, Japan Society Benefit Auction 2016

At his kiln in Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture on Kyushu, Ariyama experiments with unconventional, contemporary expressions of the regional tradition of Satsuma ware, in particular the tradition of Kuro (black) Satsuma ware, whose jet-black sheen is due to the high iron content of the clay. Ariyama has remarked that he consistently seeks inspiration in the forms of nature, an ethos that is evident in this vase. Here, the white glaze layered against a deep blue ceramic body produces a random pattern resembling cracks across a panel of ice, while a single flower set inside seems to brim with the vitality of a newly sprouting plant.