Rising Dragon: Tokuda Yasokichi IV
Onishi Gallery is honored to present Rising Dragon, a solo exhibition of Japanese ceramic artist Tokuda Yasokichi IV. One of few female leaders of traditional pottery families, Tokuda is recognized today as a remarkable figure in Japan as well as internationally. With this being her first solo exhibition outside of Japan, Tokuda offers visitors stunning ceramic works polished to perfection, with displays of challenging conceptions in ceramic artistry that showcase sleek lines and shimmering surfaces throughout each piece.
Born in 1961, Tokuda Yasokichi IV succeeded her father, Tokuda Yasokichi III, in 2009, who was a revered Kutani potter and one of Japan’s “Living National Treasure” artists. Tokuda inherited from her father the techniques and methods of their Tokuda family style of Kutani porcelain production that features saiyu glazing. The arrangements and gradations of color play a central role in the ornamentation, rather than the usual pictorial designs of birds, flowers, and figures seen in conventional Kutani ware. Tokuda’s personal sensibility as a female artist lends her a unique perspective on the tradition that is reflected in her diverse choices of color and unique interpretations of form.
Tokuda is one of few female heads of a traditional potting lineage in Japan. In traditional art families, the one who succeeds as head of the family is typically determined at birth, and is most often male. Since her father did not have any male successors however, he decided to pass on the family’s name and practice to one of his daughters. Although it was a challenge to make a place for herself as head artist of the family tradition in a still male-dominated social structure, Tokuda has defined her own signature ceramic works and creative voice apart from that of her father. This solo show highlights her impressive achievements.
“Rising Dragon,” a delicate yet powerful vessel emanating grace and beauty, is inspired by Tokuda’s feelings towards her father, a dragon and the central figure in her life as both father and master artist. This image of a rising dragon came to her when she recalled how her father used to gaze at the river in front of the Tokuda Yasokichi studio, which has also been her favorite place to visit since she was a little girl. Today, Tokuda imagines a dragon, her father, ascending from that river to the sky. “Rising Dragon” (one of a series) was acquired by the British Museum in 2014.
Tokuda’s works are featured in a number of museums around the world including the British Museum (London, UK), Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art (Kanazawa, Japan), Indianapolis Museum of Art (Indiana, US), and Art Complex Museum (Massachusetts, US). And, in fall of 2017, Onishi Gallery helped to arrange a PBS television program about female artists who lead the traditional art world in Japan. One of the artists introduced was Tokuda Yasokichi IV. The program will air on all PBS stations throughout the year beginning late spring 2018.