Sen Rikyû (15221591) is said to have mentioned, suki (style, aesthetic) in chanoyu is not copying others. Firmly establishing in the tea aesthetic his own style based on severity, austerity, and melancholy, he introduced the most avant-garde period in the history of chanoyu by commissioning his own designs of tea utensils rather than using the Chinese wares that had been the most prized utensils. The creation of new types of utensils proclaimed the beginning of a new way of tea.
Such an innovative spirit developed out of the Zen-based credo of living in the present. Inheriting this spirit, Rikyûs disciple Furuta Oribe formed his own way of tea with his utensil designs, their freely-expressed artfulness contrasting with Rikyûs preference for reserved simplicity. Within the span of half a century, chanoyu produced such distinct masters whose contributions to later developments in tea utensils are immeasurable.
Today, four centuries later, individualism remains the pursuit of artists working toward the attainment of their own expressive language. While the materials used are as diverse as clay, glass, acrylic, bamboo and brass, the contemporary artists featured in the present exhibition align themselves with the lineage of the avant-garde.
Copyright © 2002 Asia Society
Isak Isaksson (Sweden, 1949)
The Broken Earth, 2001
Yasuhiro Kiyomizu (Japan, b. 1957)
Play, Bravery, Transcendence (yû, yû, yû), 2000
Hiroshi Awatsuji (Japan, 1925-1995)
Crescent, Adornment, Tab (gen, sô, kan), 1992
Kimiko Nakamura (Kyoto, Japan, b. 1962)
Matching set of utensils (kaigu): water jar (mizusashi), ladle stand (shakutate), waste-water receptacle (kensui), kettle-lid rest (futaoki)