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Shokunin: Hosai Matsubayashi, Pottery

Photo by Yuya Hoshino

In celebration of our current Art in the Garden exhibition, Shokunin: Five Kyoto Artisans Look to the Future, each week we’ll feature one of the five artists whose work is showcased in the exhibition. This week, we begin with Hosai Matsubayashi who specializes in pottery. He has added a modern twist to traditional tea ceremony aesthetics and offers his own special interpretation of shokunin, or artisan.

In 2017, Yusuke Matsubayashi succeeded his father as head of the 400-year-old Asahi-yaki Pottery, taking the title of Hosai XVI. He produces work using the traditional Asahi-yaki technique noted for its delicate wheel shaping, while he moves forward at the same time to revive the traditional tea ceremony aesthetics with his own modern-day sensibilities, seen in unorthodox use of color and design.

Photo by Yuya Hoshino

He has exhibited his work and hosted a tea ceremony in Guimet Museum in Paris, and he was honored as artist-in-residence at Leach Pottery in St. Ives, established in Cornwall, England in the 1920s by the famous British potter Bernard Leach, a leader of the international folk craft movement.

“We think of a certain character when we use the word shokunin. It is the character of a group, as much as that of an individual. This character has a particular profession and a specific locality. Our profession can never be talked about without understanding the social and environmental aspects of each region, and knowing about the people who are involved in sustaining the tradition. The shokunin exist as shokunin because others exist in community with them— the tea master who serves tea in his bowls, the chef whose cuisine depends upon the beauty and form of his platters.” – Hosai Matsubayashi