Booth #S516

Artist Bio:
Toshinori (Toshi) Munakata

Toshinori Munakata was born in Aizu (northern Japan) in 1985. Munakata is a ninth-generation potter as his ancestor started his kiln in 1719. After completing Tokyo Metropolitan College in 2005, he graduated from the Traditional Arts Super College of Kyoto in 2007. He then served an apprenticeship under his grandfather (Munakata the 7th) and father (Munakata the 8th).

According to Munakata, he is inspired by the nature of his homeland and makes pottery using local clays and plant ash glazes. Also, he is impressed by plants and animals, as well as by their vital energy. He aims to create works of elegant lines and curves with delicate surfaces of gradation and gloss. He uses green glazes to express the fresh green leaves of spring after the long, severe winter of his homeland. Raised in a cold region, he hopes to give form to his longing for spring.

Munakata said that he learned a lot from the long-established techniques practiced at the Munakata kiln, such as throwing a wheel, glazing ceramics, refining clays and firing clays. Being able to easily access the accumulated knowledge and experiences of the Munakata kiln is his advantage. On the other hand, as a contemporary person, he creates original works distinct from those of the Munakata kiln. He aims to produce a new style of works, which have beautiful curved lines and delicate colors.

Munakata’s works were exhibited at Milan’s “MIA Exhibition” (2007), Fukushima Contemporary Art Biennale (2012, 2016), Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo’s Solo Exhibition (2014), Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum (2014), Urabandai Kogen Hotel’s “Munakata the 8th and 9th” (2015), Kandori’s Solo Exhibitions (2016, 2018), Japan Teapot Exhibition in Shanghai (2018), and Dialogue Gallery’s Solo Exhibition in Hangzhou, China (2019).

Munakata won the Silver Prize at the 2nd China Tea Ware Contest in 2018. His works were collected by Idemitsu Museum in Tokyo.

Artist Statement: 
I was born and raised in the northern Japan area called Aizu, where nature is beautiful. Surrounded by mountains and rivers, I feel that nature offers enjoyments of each of the four seasons. I am inspired by the nature of my homeland and make pottery using local clays and plant ash glazes. Also, I am impressed by plants and animals, as well as by their vital energy.

The clays are fired in a kiln, where the temperature reaches 1,200 degrees Celsius. Blazing for days, the fire hardens the clays and shapes my works. I aim to create works of elegant lines and curves with delicate surfaces of gradation and gloss. Also, I create works inspired by plants and animals. My crane-neck vase has a long neck with a beak on the top, expressing a crane just taking off from a tree. I use green glazes to express the fresh green leaves of spring after the long, severe winter of my homeland. Raised in a cold region, I hope to give form to my longing for spring.

I am a ninth-generation potter of the Munakata kiln, which my ancestor started in 1719. Since its launch, the Munakata kiln has produced pottery for 300 years using clays collected from the mountain behind it and using local, natural ash glazes. Pottery made in the Munakata kiln is solid and massive, with dark colors that reflect severe winters. During the time of my great-grandfather Munakata the 6th, British potter Bernard Leach visited the kiln in 1954 and highly appreciated the works made in the Munakata kiln. In 1958, a bowl made in the Munakata kiln received a grand prize at the Brussels World Fair.

I learned a lot from the long-established techniques practiced at the Munakata kiln, such as throwing a wheel, glazing ceramics, refining clays and firing clays. Being able to easily access the accumulated knowledge and experiences of the Munakata kiln is my advantage. On the other hand, as a contemporary person, I create original works distinct from those of the Munakata kiln. I aim to produce a new style of works, which have beautiful curved lines and delicate colors.

I am interested in the works of Bernard Leach, who once visited the Munakata kiln. I think that his style of integrating the cultures of the West and East is unique and essential. Some of my works, such as vases, are likened to the works of Austrian potter Lucie Rie. Rie has a different background and culture than mine, but I feel honored to be compared with such an outstanding artist.

When I go to work every day walking from my house to the kiln, I see fragments of pottery on the ground of the mountain path, which were produced a few hundred years ago by unknown potters at the Munakata kiln. These fragments convey abundant information about clays and glazes. In addition, I see traces of creativity by potters of those days. I think that I am lucky to be able to focus on creating works inspired by the works of those preceding potters.

Contact Info:
Website: http://dialoguegallery.com/

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