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Expression of Mind and Body "Physicality: Sumi-e/ Suiboku Sansui"

Makoto Hatori
Makoto Hatori
Makoto HatoriCeramic and three-dimensional artist at Makoto Hatori Clayart Studio (Moriya, Japan)

“Physicality: 墨絵Sumi-e/ 水墨山水Suiboku Sansui (07-03-1),” (W)110.0- (D)49.0- (H)19.0 cm. Stoneware (non glaze), pigment, iron rod, epoxy. Stoneware (the pieces have textures of lusterless tones, such as a Japanese paper tone), pigment, iron rod, epoxy. Electric kiln and charcoal smoked, fired 1250 degrees C. in reduction, mixed media. Year of production 2021.

Expression of Mind and Body "Physicality: Sumi-e/ Suiboku Sansui"

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“Physicality: 墨 絵Sumi-e/ 水墨 山水 Suiboku Sansui (07-03-1),” (W)110.0- (D)49.0- (H)19.0 cm. Stoneware (non
glaze), pigment, iron rod, epoxy. Stoneware (the pieces have textures of lusterless tones, such as a Japanese paper
tone), pigment, iron rod, epoxy. Electric kiln and charcoal smoked, fired 1250 degrees C. in reduction, mixed media.
In 2020, a pandemic has descended upon us. Our preexisting notions of subject and object have
collapsed, and we have been confronted with the unforeseeable. Seeking to reaffirm the
presence of the subject and object as a unified whole, I look to traditional sumi-e/suiboku-ga
(ink-wash painting) in Japan. Using brush lines to embody the physicality of my mind and body,
I think of this series of works "Physicality: A State", "Physicality: Sumi-e/Suiboku Sansui" as an
intellectual sansui-ga, suiboku sansui (traditional landscape painting in water ink).
Ceramic art is rooted in the earth. Although clay is usually considered a mere base material of
ceramic art, the clay itself exists in its own right as the concept and motif of my work. By
exploring the materiality of the medium and attempting to grasp its essence, I extend this
traditional art form into contemporary art. By choosing not to apply glazes, thus rejecting
artificial aesthetic enhancement, I contemplate the object’s inner essence. In this way, my work
becomes conceptual art and seeks to transcend the so-called autotelism often associated with
ceramics (the notion that a ceramic object becomes a work of art through the process of firing,
and is an end in itself, often lacking conceptual framework).
In this line of conceptual exploration, I consider the interaction between ‘ink’ and ‘paper’ and
how they co-exist within my Suiboku Sansui; thinking of ‘paper’ as not only a support surface but
an integral part of the image and creating an image not through ‘painting with ink’, but rather
letting the ‘ink’ interact with ‘paper’. Through this approach, and by omitting color, this work
aims to visualize the essence of reality and express physicality. Translating ‘surface’ into ‘line’
that embodies ‘physicality’ leads to a kind of expansive image-making that is synergetic and
reciprocal. Moreover, by leaving out superficial qualities that appeal to the senses, the colorless
world (the highest realm in Buddhist spirituality) and our spiritual core can be captured. Within
this co-embodied work using seemingly disparate materials, the iron rod is the external ‘other’
(to clay) and can be likened to an extension of the hand, like a painting brush. The surface of
non-glazed ceramics represents the texture of Japanese paper; the milky white surface
represents the Pure Land (Buddhism); and, with black pigments added, the grey surface
symbolizes the Underworld. In my ‘non-color’ monochromatic ‘Physicality’ series work the
ceramic forms become a kind of conceptual ink and paper. Achieving such unification of
different physical properties, this work could be seen as a three-dimensional drawing that
manifests physically.
I have previously spoken of the egg-shaped ‘white’/“non-color" as a particular visual language.
Additionally, suiboku sansui rejects realism in favor of a different kind of illusionism that can
express abstract reality. Echoing this perspective, I invite the viewer’s close attention to the
ceramic cylindrical form which the ‘other’ material (iron in this case) goes through, or which
envelops the iron rod. Recalling Georg Simmel’s notion of ‘the picture frame’, the concealed
element of the work speaks to the idea that being aware of hidden matters is the first step
towards uncovering the truth. Within the Japanese non-glazed ceramic tradition (meaning
‘naturally’ glazed through the natural firing process, rather than an artificially applied glaze), it is
commonly understood that ceramic art is composed of clay both as the medium and support
simultaneously.

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Expression of Mind and Body "Physicality: Sumi-e/ Suiboku Sansui"

  • 1. http://www2r.biglobe.ne.jp/~makoto-h/ “Physicality: 墨 絵Sumi-e/ 水墨 山水 Suiboku Sansui (07-03-1),” (W)110.0- (D)49.0- (H)19.0 cm. Stoneware (non glaze), pigment, iron rod, epoxy. Stoneware (the pieces have textures of lusterless tones, such as a Japanese paper tone), pigment, iron rod, epoxy. Electric kiln and charcoal smoked, fired 1250 degrees C. in reduction, mixed media. In 2020, a pandemic has descended upon us. Our preexisting notions of subject and object have collapsed, and we have been confronted with the unforeseeable. Seeking to reaffirm the presence of the subject and object as a unified whole, I look to traditional sumi-e/suiboku-ga (ink-wash painting) in Japan. Using brush lines to embody the physicality of my mind and body, I think of this series of works "Physicality: A State", "Physicality: Sumi-e/Suiboku Sansui" as an intellectual sansui-ga, suiboku sansui (traditional landscape painting in water ink). Ceramic art is rooted in the earth. Although clay is usually considered a mere base material of ceramic art, the clay itself exists in its own right as the concept and motif of my work. By exploring the materiality of the medium and attempting to grasp its essence, I extend this traditional art form into contemporary art. By choosing not to apply glazes, thus rejecting artificial aesthetic enhancement, I contemplate the object’s inner essence. In this way, my work becomes conceptual art and seeks to transcend the so-called autotelism often associated with
  • 2. ceramics (the notion that a ceramic object becomes a work of art through the process of firing, and is an end in itself, often lacking conceptual framework). In this line of conceptual exploration, I consider the interaction between ‘ink’ and ‘paper’ and how they co-exist within my Suiboku Sansui; thinking of ‘paper’ as not only a support surface but an integral part of the image and creating an image not through ‘painting with ink’, but rather letting the ‘ink’ interact with ‘paper’. Through this approach, and by omitting color, this work aims to visualize the essence of reality and express physicality. Translating ‘surface’ into ‘line’ that embodies ‘physicality’ leads to a kind of expansive image-making that is synergetic and reciprocal. Moreover, by leaving out superficial qualities that appeal to the senses, the colorless world (the highest realm in Buddhist spirituality) and our spiritual core can be captured. Within this co-embodied work using seemingly disparate materials, the iron rod is the external ‘other’ (to clay) and can be likened to an extension of the hand, like a painting brush. The surface of non-glazed ceramics represents the texture of Japanese paper; the milky white surface represents the Pure Land (Buddhism); and, with black pigments added, the grey surface symbolizes the Underworld. In my ‘non-color’ monochromatic ‘Physicality’ series work the ceramic forms become a kind of conceptual ink and paper. Achieving such unification of different physical properties, this work could be seen as a three-dimensional drawing that manifests physically. I have previously spoken of the egg-shaped ‘white’/“non-color" as a particular visual language. Additionally, suiboku sansui rejects realism in favor of a different kind of illusionism that can express abstract reality. Echoing this perspective, I invite the viewer’s close attention to the ceramic cylindrical form which the ‘other’ material (iron in this case) goes through, or which envelops the iron rod. Recalling Georg Simmel’s notion of ‘the picture frame’, the concealed element of the work speaks to the idea that being aware of hidden matters is the first step towards uncovering the truth. Within the Japanese non-glazed ceramic tradition (meaning ‘naturally’ glazed through the natural firing process, rather than an artificially applied glaze), it is commonly understood that ceramic art is composed of clay both as the medium and support simultaneously.