The Echigo plain in Niigata Prefecture is a famous rice-producing
district and an area of high-quality-sake production as well.
Go along a country road across the broad, level rural district
to the north, and you will reach a row of stores and houses on
a street of Nakajo-machi. The mountainside of the town is called
Hanyama, where you will find Mr. Katsuyuki Sakazume and his "anagama"
or underground kiln. Take a look at his broad studio of placidity
and a mountain of pinewood piled around the kiln for ceramic
artwork production, and you will certainly feel an air of serenity.
Yes, this is the very place for the job. This may sound a big
surprise to you, but it is true that he usually continues to
burn that kind of a huge pile of pinewood for over two weeks
to realize his own ceramic artwork of "flame." His
works of art comes from "firing and hardening" of extremely
high temperature. From this process, he extracts mysterious and
fascinating power beyond human knowledge.
On one occasion an art critic of France said very appropriately,
"Every constituent element of the universe falls into the
hand of ceramic artists as a raw material for their artwork."
The texture of paintings has the power to captivate you. The
fascination might not be depicted by any words. Likewise, the
texture of earthenware has the power to fascinate you, very important
in terms of the sense of sight and that of touch as well. It
is a matter of course that the form or shape of the artwork also
has the power to put you under a spell.
I hear Mr. Sakazume, after years of study, has now become
a master-hand at how to build kilns as well as how to produce
ceramic artworks. He was dispatched to the U.S.A. in 1979 through
the sponsorship of Japan Foundation as a guest professor at New
Jersey State-run Art and Education Center. During his stay in
New York, he met Mr.Peter H. Voulkos, a world-famous ceramic
artist, to devotedly cooperate with him to build his kiln, until
finally he was favored with his warm friendship, deeply impressed
with his artwork. I guess this is how he has learned the modernistic
of ceramic art.
He is now standing at a contact point between the Oriental
artwork of tradition and the Western artwork of modernistic,
with Japanese mind and Western learning combined together. I
would appreciate it if you could receive him with your warm hands
and your cool head as well from this time forth for a while,
and keep watching whatan attitude he will take from now on. (SUZUKI Susumu, Translation by SAKAI Takahiko)