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S H O Z O M I C H I K AWA

The Nature of Clay


The Nature of Clay:

SHOZO MICHIKAWA cavin - morris Gallery MAY 28 - JULY 1, 2011

To retain the natural “intentions” of the day A cold winter morning, wedging clay in the workshop. More painful than cold, the feel of a handful of clay-steam rises from one’s hands and just for an instant it itches. Various shapes are born from my hands. This morning’s little satisfaction.

-Shozo Michikawa


S hozo m ichi k awa: the nature of clay may 28 – july 1, 2011

Cavin-morris is honored to present a one-person exhibition by the worldrenowned artist, shozo michikawa. We will present a cross-section of some of his newest pieces. Although he has shown frequently all over the world, aside from a presentation of his work at sofa by the wonderful gallery besson, this will be his first solo presentation in new york.

“ at first glance, one would imagine that shozo’s dramatic faceted and twisted forms are hand-built and sculpted but, in fact, the vases he was working on during my visit were created on the wheel. however, he does not ‘throw’ his vessels in any conventional sense; rather their energy comes from the twisting of fractured planes on an internal axis. it is a different understanding of his materials, to do with cutting and paring down, rather than expanding from a ball of clay. he speaks Small Twist Form, SMi 23 of having a ‘conversation with the clay’ and ‘assisting the way it wants to go,’ which reflects his profound respect for its natural qualities. an early morning walk through the woods with his japanese husky dog revealed just as much about his attitude to nature: almost an animist veneration for natural forces such as rocks, trees and the very earth from which the clay is mined, a sensibility that finds expression in the natural intentions of his beautiful pots.”

Over the years michikawa has established a unique language in his medium, one that nods toward traditions but that follows none. He views his work as still functional, but because of their bold forms and presences the functionality becomes a choice of the owner. Most will take their places as sculpture before they are allowed their utilitarian concept.

-Simon Martin, art historian/writer/curator, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester-

There are dangerous and beautiful undertones to his work. They are weathered and scarred like ancient eroded earthen architecture, less about erosion perhaps then the shifting of natural valences, like something we only know has changed by looking away for a bit and then looking back to see the difference time has made. We see this in the way wind shapes ridges in desert sand or in water as it pulls back again into the ocean leaving the sand rilled and newly shaped yet still in its own tradition. It is the surface above a force, the signifier of the huge true strength of nature disturbed and undisturbed. Below those ripples the sea has no morals, above the sand follows the endless shaping by the wind in its best and worst behavior. The sea can flood, the wind can hide a sandstorm, the mud can slide and cover the world and the next day can be sweet and sultry. Michikawa’s work has been described as a physical manifestation of the conciseness of haiku, fast and brief and increasingly and never endingly complex. These are tactile pieces and every one of them hums and buzzes in one’s hands in astonishing physicality.


SMALL TWIST FORM, 2008 STONEWARE WITH KOHIKI GLAZE 6.85 x 5.67 x 5.67 inches, SMI 21 INCENSE BURNER. 2008 STONEWARE WITH KOHIKI GLAZE 4 x 5.5 x 4 inches, SMI 1


Small Twist Form, 2011 STONEWARE WITH SHINO GLAZE 5.75.x 4 x 2.5 inches, SMI 28

POT, c. 2010 STONEWARE WITH NATURAL ASH GLAZE 7 x 5.08 x 5.08 INCHES, SMI 20


BOWL, c. 2010 STONEWARE WITH NATURAL ASH GLAZE 5.08 x 9.8 x 8.62 INCHES, SMI 14

BOWL, c. 2010 STONEWARE WITH Kohiki GLAZE 6.26 x 11.46 x 9.92 INCHES, SMI 13


TEA POT FORM, 2011 STONEWAre with natural ash glaze 4.75 x 6 x 3.75 inches, SMI 30

tANKA TEA POT FORM, 2011 STONEWAre 5 x 6.5 x 3 INCHES, SMI 31


TANKA WAVE POT, c. 2010 STONEWAre 4.61 x 4.13 x 4.13 INCHES, SMI 27

SMALL TWIST FORM, c. 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 3.78 x 3.78 x 3.78 INCHES, SMI 23


SMALL TWIST FORM, c. 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 4.25 x 3.78 x 4.49 inches, SMI 24 SMALL TWIST FORM, c. 2010 STONEWAre WITH kohiki glaze 5.08 x 4.72 x 4.25 inches, SMI 22


Twist form, 2011 STONEWAre with natural ash glaze 5.25 x 2.75 x 5.25 inches, SMI 29

TANKA TRIANGLE POT, 2010 STONEWAre 4 x 3 x 3.75 inches, SMI 4


small twist FORM, c. 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 5 x 7 x 4 inches, SMI 6

TAnka square pot, c. 2010 STONEWAre 10.28 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches, SMI 26


SMALL TWIST FORM, 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 4 x 7 x 7 inches, SMI 7

Small twist FORM, 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 6 x 7 x 6 inches, SMI 8


TEABOWL, 2010 STONEWAre with shino glaze 4 x 4.5 x 4 inches, SMI 10 MIZUSASHI, c. 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 6 x 6 x 6 inches, SMI 9


SQuare pot, c. 2010 STONEWAre with shino glaze 8.86 x 5.67 x 5.67 inches, SMI 19

SQUARE POT, c. 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 10.98 x 5.31 x 5.31 inches, SMI 18


KOHiki katakuchi bowl, c. 2010 STONEWAre with kohiki glaze 4.96 x 4.96 x 4.61 INCHES, SMI 15 TANKA TRIANGLE SCULPTURAL FORM, 2008 STONEWAre 7 x 8.5 x 6.5 inches, SMI 3


Benihohiki tea bowl, c. 2010 STONEWAre with BENihohiki glaze 4.49 x 4.49 x 3.19 INCHES, SMI 25

NATURAL ASH POT, c. 2010 STONEWAre with NATURAL ASH GLAZE 4.49 x 4.49 x 12.76 INCHES, SMI 16


TALL POT, 2011 STONEWAre with NATURAL ASH GLAZE 19.5 x 6.5 x 6 INCHES, SMI 11

TALLPOT, 2011 (Cover Image) STONEWAre with KOHIKi GLAZE 19.5 x 7 x 6 INCHES, SMI 12


Recent Foreign Exhibitions

Recent Japan Solo Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions: 1996 Hiraya Gallery, Manila, Philippines 1997 Hiraya Gallery, Manila, Philippines 2001 Art Gallery, Ulaan baatar, Mongolia 2003 IZUKAN GALLERY, Manila, Philippines 2004 GALERIE BESSON, London, UK 2005 IZUKAN GALLERY, Manila, Philippines Forbidden City, Beijing, China Shandong Museum, Shandong, China Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, USA 2006 Puls Contemporary Gallery, Brussels, Belgium 2007 IZUKAN GALLERY Manila, Phillipines Galerie Besson London, UK 2008 Clara Scremini Gallery, Paris, France 2009 GALERIE BESSON, LONDON, UK Group Exhibitions: 1996 101Pitcher Exhibition, Terres de Provence, Paris, France 1999 Gallery Pots, GALERIE BESSON, London, UK 2002 Accompaniments of Tea, Daiichi Gallery, New York, USA 2003 Summer Exhibition, GALERIE BESSON, London, UK 2004 Japanese Ceramics, GALERIE, BESSON, London, UK Maiden Bridge Exhibition, Lancaster, UK SOFA Chicago, Chicago, USA 2005 Ceremica mosaico exhibition, Ravenna, Italy Summer Exhibition, GALERIE BESSON, London, UK With John Brown, Signature Shop Gallery, Atlanta, USA 2006 Japanese Crafts Exhibition, Galerie Besson, UK 2008 “SOFA NY”, new York. USA “A Japanese Dialogue”,The Scottish Gallery Scotland,UK “The Great North Art Show”, Yorkshire,UK “Twenty Years-Twenty Pots”, Galerie Besson London, UK “Tutor Exhibition”, Sussex Barn Gallery Sussex,UK “International Ceramics”, Giroussens France 2009 “Soft Beauty of Traditional Shions”,USA The Art of Japan Craft 1870 to the Present,USA “SOFA Chicago”, USA

1995 Tobu Department Store Gallery, Tokyo 1997 Tokyu Department Store Gallery, Tokyo 2000 Hankyu Department Store Gallery, Osaka Mitsukoshi Department Store Gallery, Kurashiki 2001 Tobu Department Store Gallery, Tokyo 2003 Matsuzakaya Department Store Gallery, Shizuoka Tobu Department Store Gallery, Tokyo 2005 “Wa-noi” Shizuoka “Gallery Tokyo Eizo” Tokyo 2008 “Gallery hu” Nagoya 2009 “Gallery oyama” Osaka Workshops 1996 Higham Hall College, Cumbria UK 1997 Technical University of Philippines , Manila, Philippines 2001 Mongolia Art College, Ulan Bator, Mongolia 2003 Technical University of Philippines, Manila, Philippines Higham Hall College, Cumbria UK 2004 University of Philippines, Diliman, Philippines A Kiln Park for Cumbria in 2004, Penrith, UK 2005 University of Philippines, Diliman, Philippines ATELIER CIRKEL, Belgium Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts, Asheville, USA 2006 “Higham Hall” Cumbria,UK “Atelier Circle” Belgium 2007 “West Dean College” Sussex,UK “Higham Hall” Cumbria,UK “Penland School of Crafts” Penland,USA 2008 “West Dean College” Sussex,UK “Higham Hall” Cumbria,UK 2009 “International Ceramic Festival”UK “West Dean”,UK “Higaham Hall”UK “Keramik nud Topferschule”UK


Shozo Michikawa (b. Hokkaido, Japan 1953) graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University in 1975. Today he lives and works in Seto, Aichi, a town known as one of the “Nihon Rokkoyo” or “Chuse Rokkoyo” referring to one of the six oldest pottery centers in Japan. Seto is an area blessed with high-quality clay and an abundance of wood for fueling kilns, which has made it a center for ceramic production since ancient times. Michikawa takes much inspiration from the natural landscape of Hokkaido; the sea, the mountains’ contrast of black rock and white snow, deserts, gnarled trees, and volcanoes. Growing up near the still-active volcano Mt. Usu, it would be easy to surmise that, for Michikawa, firing clay is almost a birthright and a heritage. In regards to using nature as an inspiration, Michikawa states: “The energy of nature is truly immense. No matter how much our sciences and civilization might evolve, the power of human beings is inconsequential in the face of human threats such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and erupting volcanoes. I think this is why the works created by the natural world, for instance the patterns formed by the winds on the desert sands, or a majestic cliff overlooking the ocean, contain a power that can never be imitated by human hands. My own creative activities have been inspired by various phenomena in the natural world, even those that can be seen in everyday life.” Michikawa’s work has been widely exhibited in Japan and also in Mongolia, the Philippines, France, New York, and London. His work is in the collections of the China-Japan Exchange Center in Beijing, as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2005 he was honored with an exhibition at the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Awards and Distinctions 1990 Kashiki” Exhibition, Sapporo, Japan 1991 Design Competition, Seto, Japan 1992 The Bowl” Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan 1994 Seikiokoeru Craft Exhibition, Kyoto, Japan 2005 Grand Prix “CERAMIACMOSAICO” Ravenna,Italy Collection 2006 Qinglingsi Temple, Xi’an, CHINA China-Japan Exchange Center, Beijing, CHINA 2007 Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA 2009 National Museum of Wales, WALES Aberystwyth University of Wales, WALES


PARTNERSHIP WITH NATURE Seto has a history of over 1300 years as a pottery town. Clays, kilns, prototypes, glazes, brushes; anything and everything to do with ceramics can be obtained here. Because the town is built on clay there is a distinct atmosphere here. The river that runs through the town is white and the air is often dusty. Should you visit a restaurant in Seto and start a conversation on pottery you better watch out because the old lady who works there is bound to say things like “I’ve decorated nothing but the faces of ceramic dolls for forty years,” and you are no match for her with a smattering of knowledge. In other words you have to create something extraordinary to avoid obscurity amongst the five thousand plus residents who are, one way or another, all engaged in the making of ceramics. I have been creating in such an environment for about thirty years. One could say that my work was nurtured by this town. Incidentally, I make it a rule to have a conversation with clay when I am creating. You cannot control this natural object clay as it stretches shrinks, snaps, and bends. The same goes for firing. The way the temperature rises inside the kiln differs from summer to winter. The results vary considerably according to the weather conditions such as rainy days or windy days. In other words my partner is nature itself and I need to get along well with it otherwise the result will be unsatisfactory. All I do in the process is to give a little helping hand to the ever transforming clay to assist the way it wants to go. Such is the daily routine that results in my work. -Shozo Michikawa (Taken from Galerie Besson’s 2007 release, “Shozo Michikawa: Thirty Years, Thirty Pots”)

triangle pot, N.D. STONEWAre with kohiki GLAZE 12.87 x 6.5 x 6.5 INCHES, SMI 17


Cavin morris gallery 210 Eleventh avenue suite 201 nEw York, ny 10001 T: 212 226 3768 F: 212 226 0155 info@Cavinmorris.com CATALOGUE DESIGn: ZOE MEY & MIMI KANO


Shozo Michikawa: The Nature of Ceramics