Contemporary Living National Treasures

Contemporary Living National Treasures

Imaizumi Imaemon XIV・Ito Sekisui V・ Osumi Yukie・Ozawa Komin・Tokuda Yasokichi III



Exhibition Dates: September 17 – October 17, 2015
Location: Onishi Gallery, 521 W. 26th Street, New York City
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm


Onishi Gallery is pleased to bring together the work of five master-level artists who have been designated Living National Treasures by the Japanese government. Unparalleled in their craft, these artists have not only gained mastery over their chosen media, but their contributions are so significant that they constitute intangible cultural properties. These artists, many carrying on techniques that have been passed down through their families for generations, have not only preserved important cultural traditions, but have created new ways to interpret them.


In 2014, Imaizumi Imaemon XIV (b. 1962) became a Living National Treasure at the age of 51, making him the youngest artist in Japan to receive the honor. An expert in the Iro-Nabeshima style of polychrome ceramics, Imaizumi utilizes traditional techniques but also injects his own personal tastes, resulting in technically impressive pieces with truly unique designs. The 14th generation head of his family, Imaizumi’s work is in many museums’ permanent collections, including The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, The Kyushu Ceramic Museum in Saga, The Museum of Ceramic Art in Hyogo, The British Museum in London and The Auckland Museum in New Zealand.


Ito Sekisui V (b. 1941) earned recognition for his work with mumyoi, or red clay rich in ferric oxide. Extracted from gold mines and endemic to Sado Island in Niigata prefecture, the artist’s birthplace, this clay allows Ito to work in his own signature style. After graduating from Kyoto Technical University with a degree in ceramics in 1966, he returned to Sado Island to continue his family’s ceramic business, in operation for fourteen generations. Ito began experimenting with mumyoi and various firing methods, and is now known for his unglazed, wood-fired red-and-black ceramics. He continues to experiment with different techniques and strives to perfect his skills even further. His work can be seen at many museums around the world: The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Niigata; Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum, Ibaraki; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


The first female metalware artist to be designated a Living National Treasure, Osumi Yukie (b. 1945), specializes in tankin, or hammered vessels. The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, she is known for her application of the traditional technique nunome-zogan or textile imprint inlay. This involves hammering metal leaf or wire into a fine, mesh-like grid incised into the surface of metal. Osumi creates both decorative and functional objects, such as vases and tea utensils. She likes to convey a sense of nature, which is formless and flowing, and does so through her designs of wind, waves, clouds and streams. Her works are in the public collections such as The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and The Royal Museum, Edinburgh.


Toyama Prefecture’s sole Living National Treasure,Ozawa Komin (b. 1941) was born in an area known for its copperware. Ozawa is recognized today as master of the yakigata casting technique. He is also the inventor of a cast-wrapping technique called igurumi in which metal decoration is attached to the surface of the mold before molten metal is poured inside. Ozawa blends innovative technology with creative design to push the boundaries of traditional metal casting.


Tokuda Yasokichi III (1933-2009) was one of the world’s most famous of Kutani potters. Born in Ishikawa prefecture, he was designated a Living National Treasure in 1997 for his mastery of the saiyu glaze technique. Based on traditional Kutani colored glaze enamels, Yasokichi III developed techniques handed down from his grandfather, Tokuda Yasokichi I (1873–1956) and later his father, Tokuda Yasokichi II (1907–1997). Through his saiyu glaze techniques, Yasokichi III created his own designs characterized by delicate shading and the beautiful color contrasts of his vivid enamel glazes. Yasokichi III’s works have been recognized widely and shown in numerous museums including the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sackler Gallery, and the Smithsonian Institute.



For more information, please contact Anna Pillow at 212.695.8035 or apillow@onishigallery.com.