I had a chance to meet with a young talented artist, Mai Kitai (北井真衣) from Kanazawa. She makes Kutani porcelain by using the technic inspired by Mokubei Aoki, who is a porcelain artist back in 17th Century and was brought to Kutani to re-established Kutani ware.
“I have heard that Kutani porcelains use motives from a slice of daily life, that inspired me” – Mai Kitai
What I was most interested was her unique themes and motifs. Working woman on her way to the office, two business men exchanging a business card, a girl applying a mascara sitting down on a bench at a part…… A slice of our modern life is drawn in her own nonchalant touches. Those scenes seem so familiar and provoke laughter.
The below pictures are only some example of teacups. The price for one cut is 8,000 yen (excluding tax).
I am keen to see how her work will evolve. I am sure her style will attract new segment of people to the world of Kutani ware.
About Mai Kitai:
Born in 1985 in kanazawa. Ceramic artist. After graduated from Kanazawa Kogyo University in 2008, she decided to pursue her career as a ceramic artist. She graduated from Kanazawa college of art and gained a master degree in 2015. She selects what she feels and observes in the modern daily life as a theme for her work. Once the theme is applied to her work, the familiar everyday life becomes unusual. She wants to express this transformation into a form of commodity products.
If you are interested in her work;
Kokoshi cafe (http://kokoshi-cafe.com/?mode=grp&gid=957512)
Kutani ware is one of the greatest of Japanese porcelains.
The style is said to be started in 1655 in Kutani (九谷）region, which is in the current Kaga city in Ishikawa prefecture. After 50 years its existence, it disappeared once from the front stage of porcelains’ world. The reasons remain mystery even today. In 1807, only 80 years later, Kokutani was re-established when the domain of Kaga that governed the region that time, brought Mokubei Aoki, a porcelain artist, from Kyoto and opened a kiln.
However, the history of Kokutani had never been easy. During the period of 1940-1960s, the origin of Kokutani ware was challenged. Some started doubting that the origin was not from Kutani region, but from Arita region, where is still one of the most important home of porcelains. Fragments of a china plate with the similar style as Kutani were found in Arita region, while the fragments found in Kutani region were different from Kokutani in it style. After 1987, the development of scientific research methods could identify a type of clay, form and tone. The research results concluded that Kokutani ware could be made in the current Okayama region in 1640-1650, but similar style of fragments were recently found in Kutani area and the origin still remains as a mystery.
Its most outstanding characteristic is the multicolored ceramics painting. There are two different kinds of painting. One is called ‘Gosaite (五彩手)’, which is named from its characteristics of using five colors of red, yellow, green, purple and navy. Gaussian often draw beauty of nature, landscape, or people’s life. Its bold and well composed pictures create an exquisite harmony on white porcelain.
Another style is called ‘Aote(青手)’. It uses deep colours of green, yellow and purple but no use of red. Aote style paints an entire surface of a porcelain by the similar touch and rich colour of oil painting. The thickness of the paint gives a dynamic three-dimensional effect. It is as though birds and flowers drawn were about fly out of the porcelain.