Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chinese Ceramics for Tea in Japan

Where: Freer Gallery of Art

When: through September 14, 2014

Although this little exhibit is located in Room 6A, just off Room 6, where the "Bountiful Waters" show is currently on display, it's really more of an accompaniment to the "Chigusa" show at the Sackler.  These are examples of tea ceramics produced in China, but intended for export to Japan, where (as we know after our trip to see "Chigusa") a tea culture was flourishing.

One of the things I admire about Japanese tea culture is that it embraced flaws in ceramics.  I remember (vaguely now, I admit) seeing a show in this same room on ceramics that had been damaged and repaired, and how they were often more greatly valued after their injury, as to speak, than they were before.  The repairs themselves were works of art.  Since ceramics are inherently fragile things, it's really best to anticipate that they will suffer the slings and arrows, if not of outrageous fortune, then certainly of everyday use.  Celebrate the defects, rather than tossing out anything that has a scratch or dent.

I also like the fact that these utensils are both useful and beautiful.  So often, we tend to overlook the opportunity for beauty in our everyday lives that comes from owning  and using something well-designed and artistic.  There's no reason to think that, just because something is a common tool, that it can't be lovely.  These are all certainly both.

 I was also able to indulge my love of antiquities, as one of the bowls was from the 12th century.  Granted, that's not quite an antiquity, but it's old enough!  It's amazing to think of the things that were in the future when this bowl was made in the 1300s.  I'm always flabbergasted to think that any object could survive so many hundreds of years in good shape.

Verdict: A lovely little display, which dovetails nicely with the "Chigusa" and "Jars" exhibits in the Sackler.   

1 comment:

  1. Chinese art has the oldest continuous tradition in the world, and is marked by an unusual degree of continuity of that tradition opposing to the equivalent in the West with Western collapse and gradual recovery of classical styles. Chinese ceramics