Imari Ware: The Beauty of Sometsuke

Toguri Museum of Art

poster for Imari Ware: The Beauty of Sometsuke

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At the beginning of the 17th century, the first porcelain in Japan was made in Arita, which is now part of Saga Prefecture. Chinese porcelain had long been prized in Japan, so Arita potters very quickly began producing Chinese-style works in their own kilns, using the same type of cobalt-based paint for decorating. This blue-and-white porcelain was called “sometsuke” in Japan. There is tremendous variation in sometsuke, from simple pieces to works so masterful one can scarcely believe such elegance and complexity were achieved with a single color. In this exhibition, we examine the rich tradition of sometsuke from three major points: shifts in taste, techniques used, and the ways in which underglaze blue was combined with other colors, including celadon and iron-brown glazes. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the sophisticated techniques used, including dami, which involves filling in areas with color, often achieving fine gradations of light and dark; sumihajiki, a color-resist method in which designs are laid down in ink that burns off during firing, leaving in its place thin white lines; and fukizumi, where cobalt is sprayed onto the surface of a piece, usually around a stencil. Such techniques allow a great range of expression even when using just a single color. In this exhibition we present some 80 masterpieces of Edo-era Imari ware to share with you the full beauty and richness of sometsuke.

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from April 05, 2016 to June 19, 2016

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