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The Marvellous Marbling of Matsui Kōsei
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The Marvellous Marbling of Matsui Kōsei

Thru Sun 04/02/2023

Matsui Kōsei (Japanese, 1927–2003) is known for his delicately marbleized, unglazed vessels. Techniques of neriage or agateware, as these ceramics are known, were used from China’s Tang dynasty (618–907 C.E.) but have few precedents in Japan.

Kōsei pursued his passion for ceramics while serving as the head priest of a Buddhist temple in Ibaraki prefecture. He built a kiln on the temple grounds and studied by attempting to replicate the effects he found in prototypes from China, Korea, and Japan. At the urging of his mentor, the ceramic artist and professor Tamura Kōichi (1918–1987), he specialised in neriage. In recognition for developing eight new and highly complex neriage techniques, Kōsei was designated a Living National Treasure in 1995.

Kōsei would typically begin with several pieces of clay stained different colors with powdered pigments. Depending on the desired outcome, these would be kneaded or layered together, or cut into small pieces and assembled like a mosaic to form a richly patterned slab of clay. This was used to hand-build vessels, or rolled into a cylinder and shaped on the wheel. To preserve the crisp definition of the colors, Kōsei applied pressure from the inner surface of the cylinder as it spun and trimmed the outside surface to a smooth finish. The split and crackled textures of some of these vessels result from the clays shrinking at different rates as they dry.

This small exhibition presents five ceramics by Matsui Kōsei from the collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz.

Matsui Kōsei, Japanese, 1927-2003
Large orbed vessel, ca. 1976
Stoneware with neriage (marbling) in dark and light grey
Collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz
Artwork reproduced courtesy of Matsui Kouyou


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