Kikoujin makes useful, adaptable, ceramics with a focus on unusual and dramatic textures, using porcelain’s chameleonic character to pay tribute to primary designs in fabric and metal, the materials that spoke the language of art for centuries in Japan.
Until the young Meiji emperor ascended the throne in 1868 and began breaking down the wall that separated Japan from the modern world for two and a half centuries, “art” was a term that ordinary people used to describe practical objects. In the general wisdom, true art was applied art – a name tagged to plates and baskets, vases and textiles. Art remained a democratic concept. While in the West, the aesthete Oscar Wilde would declare that “All art is quite useless,” in Japan, it was the usefulness of the object by anyone, anywhere, that brought it to the realm of art.
This studio was founded, in that era of expanding awareness, on the idea that one’s dinnertime table setting should always offer a small taste of the sublime. Its mission has not changed.
The boldly rhythmic geometric forms of the Bishamon line show how far ahead of culture’s calendar the artisans of Arita were from the first. Lower-case modernism from before Japan engaged the larger world, stretching forward to the eternal.