Daisuke Miyatsu

宮津 大輔

Chemistry: The Beauty of Encounters 


Ayako Someya, Ueda Sōkyū, Ellen Altfest, Auguste Rodin, Okabe Sōfū, Kuroda Taizō, Niisato Akio, Hayashi Chiho, Fujii Tatsukichi, Mao Guanshuai, Masayasu Mitsuke, Miyanaga Rikichi, Morita Shiryū, Yagi Kazuo, Chihhung Liu, and more.


Partners: Ota Fine Arts, Galerie Supermarkt, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, nca | nichido contemporary art, White Cube, Yutaka Kikutake Gallery


2023.11.30 Thu. — 2023.12.13 Wed.
Daisuke Miyatsu

宮津 大輔

Chemistry: The Beauty of Encounters 


Ayako Someya, Ueda Sōkyū, Ellen Altfest, Auguste Rodin, Okabe Sōfū, Kuroda Taizō, Niisato Akio, Hayashi Chiho, Fujii Tatsukichi, Mao Guanshuai, Masayasu Mitsuke, Miyanaga Rikichi, Morita Shiryū, Yagi Kazuo, Chihhung Liu, and more.


Partners: Ota Fine Arts, Galerie Supermarkt, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, nca | nichido contemporary art, White Cube, Yutaka Kikutake Gallery


2023.11.30 Thu. — 2023.12.13 Wed.
Daisuke Miyatsu

宮津 大輔

Chemistry: The Beauty of Encounters 


Ayako Someya, Ueda Sōkyū, Ellen Altfest, Auguste Rodin, Okabe Sōfū, Kuroda Taizō, Niisato Akio, Hayashi Chiho, Fujii Tatsukichi, Mao Guanshuai, Masayasu Mitsuke, Miyanaga Rikichi, Morita Shiryū, Yagi Kazuo, Chihhung Liu, and more.


Partners: Ota Fine Arts, Galerie Supermarkt, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, nca | nichido contemporary art, White Cube, Yutaka Kikutake Gallery


2023.11.30 Thu. — 2023.12.13 Wed.

Okabe Sōfū Work 47-8 (Primal Field)


2023.11.30 Thu. — 2023.12.13 Wed.

(Closed on Sunday)


10:00 — 18:00


Shibunkaku Ginza


5-3-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan


Shibunkaku Ginza

TEL: 03-3289-0001

MAIL: tokyo@shibunkaku.co.jp

Curator's Statement

Daisuke Miyatsu

In Japan, we have cherished seasonal occasions since antiquity. Shitsurai, the ceremonial process of furnishing and preparing rooms for various seasons, dates all the way back to the Heian period. At the time, the architectural style of shinden-zukuri was open and bare with only pillars in the rooms. Structures such as byōbu (folding screens), misu (matchstick blinds), kichō (portable silk partitions), as well as ōshoji (sliding screens) and toriishoji (sliding doors with overhead torii -shaped pillars), were used as partitions, furnishing rooms for daily or ceremonial use with decor and furniture.


Eventually into the Muromachi period an architectural style called shoin-zukuri materialized, and an archetype of the Japanese-style room with a tokonoma (alcove) was born. The tokonoma has been considered sacred since it is said to have originated from raised floors where high-ranking noblemen and lords would sit. Meanwhile, it was also a place where a nobleman would think of various ways to entertain his guests in accordance with the changing seasons based on the Twenty-four Solar Terms.


As it is clear from the origin of kagura as a form of divine play associated with spiritual invocation and requiem, Japanese people have long regarded the act of “play” as a contact zone between deities and humankind since the Age of the Gods. In light of this, it is not unusual to consider shitsurai as a form of curatorial practice based upon “homo ludens (the playing human)*1”.


With the advent of technology from the West that triggered the Meiji Restoration and accelerated the country’s rapid modernization, traditional forms of Japanese painting such as yamato-e was redefined as modern nihonga. The unparalleled disaster that was the Second World War brought about a drastic shift in values, stimulating the birth of avant-garde calligraphy represented in the Bojinkai collective, or revealing the “age of Hot Abstraction” that led to the kiln-fired objet (obuje-yaki) by the Sōdeisha movement.


The traditional techniques of kogei and bijutsu, including their linguistic origins, are changing and it is worth paying attention to the technological concepts and expressions that are currently redefining these fields. Masayasu Mitsuke, a Kutani ware akae saibyo (red enamel glaze) artist, presents a contemporary version of an Imperial Easter Egg, forgoing the craft’s main motif of the land of immortals, and instead utilizing the secondary patterns of yorakumon (motif in aristocratic jewelry) and asanoha (hemp leaf). Niisato Akio’s luminous vessel from the openwork technique of hotarude is reminiscent of a modern-day UFO, identical to the image of the utsuro-bune as described in ‘Hirokata Zuihitsu’ (Hirokata’s essays from the late Edo period). Then there is Ayako Someya’s calligraphy, where universally recognized chemical symbols appear visually ambiguous, their drippings harkening to the characteristic mottled pigmentation of the Rinpa school. Among these artists, from East Asia, the exhibition introduces Mao Guanshuai, whose sculptural touch is modeled after the rare literary connoisseur Kawabata Yasunari’s beloved relic of Rodin’s A Womans Hand, as well as  Chihhung Liu whose twenty-first-century Basho painting seems to capture the dazzling sunlight and moist humidity of Taiwan.


The resonance of their work with modern nihonga, avant-garde calligraphy, and kiln-fired objet is an eloquent testament to the fact that shitsurai is not only a playground but also a kind of time machine that transcends time and space.


*1: Human beings are “homo ludens=the playing human”. It would not be an exaggeration to say that all cultures that cultivated humankind were born out of and presupposed by “play”.

Source: Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, trans. by Hideo Takahashi. Chuokoron-Shinsha, 1973.

Daisuke Miyatsu

Art collector, Professor at Yokohama University of Art and Design, board member of Mori Art Museum

Born in Tokyo in 1963. Received his PhD in Art Production at the Graduate School of Global Arts at the Tokyo University of the Arts. His background includes working in public relations and human resources management for publicly traded companies before accepting a position as a university professor. As Yokohama University of Art and Design’s third president, he developed reforms that achieved a quick and sharp recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Also brought a new style to the art world as artistic director of Kinan Art Week 2021 and “Fukuoka Art Next Week” 2022 which was different from existing art festivals. He is also known as a world-class collector of contemporary art, and his large collection exhibition Invisibleness is Visibleness (2011) at the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art (Taipei) and the unique collaborative exhibition Emotional Asia (2022) with the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum has attracted much attention.


Miyatsu has served as a member of the Agency of Cultural Affairs’ “Study Council on Overseas Dissemination of Contemporary Art” and as a juror for “Asian Art Award 2017” and “ART FUTURE PRIZE 2019”. He has authored, contributed to, and lectured on numerous topics, including, “How Will the New Corona Change Art?” and “Art × Technology Age” (Kobunsha Shinso) and “Contemporary Art Economics—Art in the Age of De-Oil, AI, and Virtual Currency” (WAYTS, Co. Ltd).


Ayako Someya

Ueda Sōkyū

(calligrapher; 1899–1968)

Calligrapher from Hyōgo Prefecture. Sōkyū studied calligraphy with Ibara Ungai and Hidai Tenrai. In 1933, he co-founded Shodō Geijutsusha (Art of Calligraphy association) and became the chief editor of their journal Shodō Geijutsu. With his work spanning the pre- and postwar eras, Sōkyū was an important mentor for Inoue Yūichi and Morita Shiryū of Bokujinkai and is regarded as a leader of postwar avant-garde calligraphy in Japan.


Ellen Altfest

(painter; b. 1970)

Ellen Altfest was born in 1970 in New York, where she currently lives and works. She received an MFA from Yale University, New York (1997), attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (2002) and was awarded a studio at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, New York, NY (2004–05). Since leaving Yale School of Art Ellen Altfest has developed her own distinct and devoted approach to figurative and representational painting. The writer and artist David Humphrey has remarked that ‘her paintings celebrate the way objects become engulfed by their surroundings and simple acts of identification multiply and transform’. Altfest always paints from life, drawn towards domestic plants, vegetables and more recently, male models. Altfest immerses herself in an intense analysis and personal engagement with the subject that pushes her vision beyond the real.

Photo: Tadayuki Minamoto

Auguste Rodin

(sculptor; 1840–1917)

French sculptor. Rodin was born in Paris. At the age of 14, he entered the Imperial College of Drawing and Mathematics, where he first studied painting and later became interested in sculpture. To pursue his dream of becoming a sculptor, Rodin took the entrance exam for the National Academy of Fine Arts three times but was denied entry. Rodin later became an apprentice to Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse where he was involved in various types of work ranging from small busts to decorations for museums and opera house. When Carrier-Belleuse’s studio moved to Belgium, Rodin remained in Belgium for six years and exhibited his work for the first time as a sculptor. During a trip to Italy in 1875, Rodin was impressed by the works of Michelangelo. Rodin went on to create notable pieces such as “The Gates of Hell” and “The Thinker,” and became known as the father of modern sculpture.

Main droite du personnage féminin du Baiser

Okabe Sōfū

(calligrapher; 1910–2001)

Calligrapher from Gunma Prefecture. Okabe studied with Hidai Tenrai, and together with Ikeda Suijō established the Sōjinsha art association. After leaving Sōjinsha, Okabe found the Sōrō group (later Sōrōsha), directing his efforts to teaching the younger generation. He participated in numerous international exhibitions.

Work 47-8 (Primal Field)

Kuroda Taizō

(ceramist, 1946–2021)

Ceramist from Shiga Prefecture. Kuroda studied with the Canadian potter Geatan Beaudin and was a fellow student of Shimaoka Tatsuzō. After working as a designer at the Canadian ceramics company SIAL, Kuroda established his own kiln in St. Gabriel in Quebec. In 1981, he moved to Matsuzaki on Izu Peninsula. Since 1991, Kuroda operates his kiln in the town of Itō on Izu. His delicate white ceramics have been widely exhibited.

White Porcelain Flower Vase

Sakakibara Shihō

(nihonga painter; 1887–1971)

Nihonga painter from Kyoto. A graduate from Kyoto City Technical School of Painting, Shihō attracted attention at the Bunten exhibition, and in 1918, he co-founded the Kokuga Sosaku Kyokai (National Painting Creation Association) with Tsuchida Bakusen and Murakami Kagaku. After the dissolution of the association, he ceased exhibiting in exhibitions and quietly continued his artistic endeavors, distancing himself from the art scene. He was named a professor at Kyoto City Technical School of Painting and Kyoto City University of Arts. Shihō received the Imperial Prize of the Japan Art Academy in 1962.


Suzuki Osamu

(ceramist; 1926–2001)

Suzuki was born in Kyoto to a family of ceramists. With like-minded artists Yagi Kazuo and Yamada Hikaru, he co-founded the avant-garde ceramic group Sōdeisha (Crawling through Mud Association) in 1948. Suzuki challenged the utilitarian attitude of traditional ceramics with his non-functional objects which he termed deizō or deishō (“clay figures” or “clay forms”). He served as a professor at the Kyoto City University of the Arts and was honored with the Asahi Award of Excellence in 1999.

Faded Cloud

Niisato Akio

Akio Niisato was born in 1977 in the Chiba prefecture. After withdrawing from his studies at the Philosophy Department, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Waseda University, he went on to study at the Tajimi City Ceramic and Design Center where he received his Diploma 2001. His selected awards include, the Award for New Artist, Premio Faenza 54th Edition (2005, Italy); Grand Prize, Paramita Museum Ceramic Competition (2008); Jury’s Special Award, International Ceramics Festival MINO; Incentive Award, Kikuchi Biennale (Tokyo, 2009); and Award for New Artist, MOA Mokichi Okada Award (Tokyo, 2014). He continues to receive high acclaim for his works, with participation in numerous exhibitions both in Japan and overseas including the US, Italy, and Romania. His representative work “Luminescent” consists of vessels created by making perforations in translucent white porcelain, and filling each of the holes with clear glaze before firing. The works which give the impression of emitting light in themselves are conceived through independently developing the Chinese technique of ‘hotarude,’ which enable translucent patterns to emerge when it carries the light, with their luminescent appearance likened to a firefly. In addition to this technique that attempts to explore ways of vessels that transcend contexts of the everyday, in recent years he has engaged in producing works that while rooted in tradition, give form to the natural traces that are born out of the dialogue between the materials and his own body.

Hayashi Chiho

©Chiho Hayashi

Fujii Tatsukichi

(artist and craftsman; 1881–1964)

Fujii Tatsukichi hailed from Aichi Prefecture and gained renown for his versatile work across diverse genres and mediums. He excelled not only in crafting various traditional crafts such as cloisonné, ceramics, lacquerware, Japanese paper, and dyeing and weaving but also left remarkable works in painting and calligraphy. As an advocate of the reformation of arts and crafts in Japan, he exerted a lasting influence. Jury member of the Bunten exhibition.

Veratrum nigrum

Mao Guanshuai

Mao Guanshuai Studio

Masayasu Mitsuke

Miyanaga Rikichi

(Tōzan III; ceramist; b. 1935)

Ceramist from Kyoto. Miyanaga graduated from the Sculpture Department of Kyoto City University of Arts. He studied under Tsuji Shindō, Horiuchi Masakazu, and Yagi Kazuo. In 1959, Miyanaga traveled to the United States and enrolled at the Art Students League. After his return to Japan, he joined the ceramics art group Sōdeisha (Crawling through Mud Association). He counts among Japan’s eminent ceramists.

Summer Sea

Morita Shiryū

(calligrapher; 1912–1998)

Avant-garde calligrapher from Hyōgo Prefecture. Like fellow artist Inoue Yūichi, Morita studied under the calligraphy master Ueda Sōkyū. He co-founded the avant-garde group Bokujinkai together with Inoue and was the founder and editor of the journal Bokubi (“Beauty of Ink”), both of which revolutionized traditional Japanese calligraphy and spread knowledge of Japanese avant-garde calligraphy to an international audience. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor with Dark Blue Ribbon.

Yagi Kazuo

(ceramist; 1918–1979)

Ceramist from Kyoto. As a co–founder of Sōdeisha (Crawling through Mud Association), Yagi was largely responsible for establishing and popularizing non–functional objects as a major category of postwar Japanese ceramic art. Working in Shigaraki clay for much of his career, Yagi later turned to kokuto (“black pottery”). He taught at the Kyoto City University of the Arts.

Adorned Object: Over-glazed Gold

Yamada Hikaru

(ceramist; 1923–2001)

Ceramist from Tokyo, eldest son of Tetsu Yamada. Yamada graduated from Kyoto Higher Technical School (currently Kyoto Institute of Technology) in the Ceramics Department. His work was selected for the Nitten exhibition the year after graduation. Yamada participated in the formation of the group ‘Young Pottery-makers’ Collective,’ and after the dissolution of the group, he co-founded the avant-garde ceramic group Sōdeisha (Crawling through Mud Association) with Kazuo Yagi and Osamu Suzuki.

Clay Mark, Silver Painted

Yokoyama Seiki

(painter; 1791–1864)

Late Edo-period painter of the Shijō school. Born in Kyoto, Seiki studied under Matsumura Keibun, excelling in depictions of flowers and birds, landscapes, and figures.

Plover and the Moon Reflecting on the Water

Yokoyama Misao

(nihonga painter; 1920–1973)

Nihonga painter from Niigata Prefecture. Yokoyama initially studied oil painting under Ishikawa Gazan but later shifted to Japanese painting, learning at the Kawabata school of Painting. After the war, he depicted his experiences of being detained in Siberia in his artworks. Despite his active participation in the Seiryūsha exhibitions, he incinerated numerous pieces of his work. Subsequently, he engaged in solo exhibitions and ventured into ink painting. He co-founded Todoroki-kai with Ishimoto Tadashi and Kayama Matazō. He was appointed Tama Art University professor. In his later years, he became paralyzed on the right side due to a stroke but continued to paint using his left hand.

Evening Red

Liu Chih-Hung