Ogata Kenzan: Esteemed Edo Era ceramicist and artist
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) is one of the most esteemed ceramicists to have lived during the Edo Period. Even today, his name is revered throughout Japan.
His elder brother Ogata Korin (1658-1716) was equally esteemed concerning Rinpa (Rimpa) art. Kenzan also produced art. However, it is Kenzan’s pottery that left its mark.
Kenzan and Korin were born into a wealthy merchant family. Thus, their upbringing in Kyoto was full of privilege. Therefore, the rich high culture they witnessed influenced the paths that Kenzan and Korin took – in the realm of art, ceramics, and other essential skills.
The Suntory Museum of Art says, “In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the Momoyama and early Edo periods, ceramics from many pottery centers were booming in Kyoto, stimulating the launch of pottery production there. In recent years, as the technical genealogy of Kyoyaki, Kyoto ware, has become clear, we have realized that the Kenzan kiln was rooted in the Kyoyaki, tradition that included Oshikoji-yaki and the work of Nonomura Ninsei.”
The esteemed Ninsei (the 1640s to 1690s) – a notable ceramicist – developed the skills of Kenzan. Hence, the refinement and master craftsman of Ninsei from Hyogo blessed Kenzan.
The Nezu Museum says, “Kōrin’s younger brother Kenzan (1663-1743) was a ceramic artist who launched new trends in the world of ceramics. Studying ceramics from Japan, China, and Europe, he left us a diverse body of work that reflects his broad-ranging tastes. It was Kenzan who turned potters into artists.”
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