Onishi Gallery is pleased to host, Yuji Obata: Sakura, Grace of Nature, a stunning exhibition of porcelain masterpieces by Japanese artist Yuji Obata. With this being his second solo exhibition in New York, Obata revisits the theme of sakura (cherry blossoms) as depicting grace and beauty; and aspires to understand a deeper meaning of this concept, which he has featured on his porcelain works for more than 30 years.
By liberating the "Hakuji" canvas from its previous limitations, the artist challenges himself to a new form of expression. The touch of Obata’s brush becomes more delicate and the blossoms become more alive than ever before. The distinctive pink color, called “Obata Pink” shines through and is a shade that hardly any other artist can successfully master when working at such a refined level of porcelain ware. Obata’s work balances bold and graceful beauty, intense color and pure white, and is not to be forgotten.
Hailing from Arita, Saga Prefecture, Obata was born in 1961 and graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University in 1984, and Saga Prefectural Arita College of Ceramics in 1987. Obata has won prizes at the Japan Traditional Arts and Crafts Exhibition, Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition, as well as the Issui-kai Exhibition.
Obata’s work in Arita-yaki porcelain carries with it over 400 years of history and tradition yet expresses a fresh originality that signals a future for this ancient art. Self-taught along each step of his creative process, from turning the potter’s wheel and kiln firing, to decorating the surfaces of his pieces with delicate drawings, Obata departs from common practice in the Arita-yaki industry to carve out a special place for himself in this traditional porcelain art world.
Onishi Gallery is pleased to host, Susumu Notomi: Tales of Blue Pottery, an exhibition that showcases hagi-yaki, a traditional type of Japanese pottery. Notomi is from Yamaguchi Prefecture where this type of pottery originates and has been crafted for over 400 years. The trademark ao-hagi (blue hagi-yaki) of Notomi is characterized by its distinctively delicate and deep blue color, reminiscent of the sky, ocean, and outer space.
In 1975, Notomi began studying pottery under his father, where he learned the intricacies of the ancient art of hagi-yaki. A characteristic of hagi-yaki are the delicate cracks seen throughout, that appear almost like that of lace within the pottery, which is caused by shrinking after firing due to the application of the glaze. This effect becomes more defined after years of age and use, and is referred to the ‘Seven Changes of Hagi’, which is sought after by artists of this craft. Notomi has always been fascinated by the beautiful blues that emerge from both the high temperate firing as well as the oxidation of the clays and invented ao-hagi through experimentation with these soils and glazes, mixing them together to achieve the ideal gradation of colors. The iron levels of the soil determines the gradient of the color and by altering the balance between the two, the artist brings about rich gradations from deep blue to indigo to pale blue, like that of the white waves of the sea. If there is an iron deficiency in the soil, it will then yield a lighter blue with the same glaze. Notomi's style can be characterized not just by the soft white color of his pieces, but also by the flowing nature of the blue glaze. He is also known for his ability to apply a contemporary sensibility to this traditional type of ancient pottery.