Earth from Sky : Stoneware Works by Mitsukuni Misaki


“Times continue to change
But only when the rhythm and pace of my body adapt
I am drawn by the look and touch of a maturing artwork
Slow against time’s movement
Is it light or air that moves me?
I create to keep feeling the connection
With the sense of familiar emanating
That I cannot quite describe”

– Mitsukuni Misaki


Mon. – Fri. : 11 6 p.m. | Saturdays by appointment

Ippodo Gallery is pleased to present the first solo showcase of ceramic artist Mitsukuni Misaki (b.1951) outside Japan. The poetry of form is paired with the artist’s urge to create powerful, lifelike works, encapsulating the dual strength and subtlety of beauty in nature. 20 works on view project this unnameable sensation, with asymmetrical works conveying the desire for serenity.

The essence Misaki aims to express comes from a restlessness in his soul. Curiosity is pervasive throughout his work, and endures as a part of the artist’s nomadic experience. From his earliest years of travel in the 1970s, Misaki eschewed what may have amounted to a successful career in law during a period of revolt in academia. Instead, inspired by world-famous potter and scholar Fujio Koyama (1900–1975), Misaki decided to devote himself to an artistic career. He thus traveled to many studios, drawing inspiration from the sky, the ocean, and the boundlessness he continues to seek today.
As he wrote in one of his letters, the quest for meaning is very significant. “Wandering allowed me to indulge myself in the pain and sweetness of walking in the wind and rain,” he writes, rhythmic and pensive.
The works are referred to as Saiyuudeiki, noted by the Japan Ceramic Society Director Koichi Mori for a well-balanced, ample form. Saiyuudeiki loosely translates to ‘colored stoneware vessels,’’ with Sai 彩 as color, Yuu 釉 as glaze, Dei 泥 as clay and Ki 器 as vessel. The style stands in marked contrast to Bian-hu, a sleeker, flatter part of his cannon.

Deliberate and powerful expression is evidenced in the blue and black horizons of the stoneware, separating earth from sky. The imperfect lines are intentional, derived from sprouting seeds, or the fertile womb of a woman.
In pursuit of form and color, discriminating attention to detail takes shape with what Misaki calls Rothko-ing. Undoubtedly, the divisive aesthetic of blue versus grey bears reference to Mark Rothko’s iconic abstract expressionist works, not only with the two-tone structure, but also with the richness and gradations of the blue. Yet the artist also finds solace in the meditation of Rothko-ing, stripping down to an inactivity that frees his sense of expression. In the detachment from material meaning, spontaneity is revealed.
Misaki hand-crafts the shapes, embracing the tension of touch instead of the more common wheel. He makes large works, with one work as large as 24 x 16 in (61.5 x 41.2 cm) challenges conceptions of space with largess.

The dichotomy of the colors is also crucial, evoking the sense of tension in the quest for bliss. The blue is rubbed and refired using four layers of slip, infusing the pale blue glaze with a middle layer of white for depth, then coated with earthen tones to give the color an appearance of age.

Despite Misaki’s many accomplishments, he remains reclusive on his creative quest. He has exhibited extensively in Japan and received numerous awards, ranging from the Japan Kogei Association Prize in 1989 to the 1993 Grand Prix/Chichibunomiya Trophy at the 12th Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition, all the way to the Grand Prix at the Kikuchi Biennale in 2013. Yet he is atypical of the outward-facing artist, instead seeking solace in his meditative moments alone, apart from time and society. While this creative process has been the result of much fanfare in Japan, time will tell how it manifests in New York.

For more information and to view an online catalogue, please visit our Exhibition page, or see our official press release.

Summer Greetings from Ippodo Gallery New York!

We Ippodo Gallery New York look forward to welcoming you this summer with a fittingly summery selection of work.
Inquiries regarding our artists and pieces are accepted anytime.

Best wishes for a splendid summer!

Ippodo Gallery New York


We open by appointment during July and August.
Please reach us at 212-967-4899 or prior to your visit.

We are looking for SUMMER INTERNSHIPS!

We are looking for an intern!

Candidate must be able to start during July, and a minimum commitment of 3 months is required.

Must be outgoing and eager to learn, able to complete given task with passion and responsibility, able to assist the director and another staff member.

Excellent opportunity to gain experience working in a gallery, and obtaining an insight on the art business.


Qualifications include:

1) Majoring in art business or interested in Japanese art

2) Business hours are 9:30am-6pm, Monday-Friday. Intern must be able to work minimum of 4 hours a day for 2 or 3 days a week. (schedule can be discussed)

3) Unpaid internship position

4) Native-level English communication skills a must. Japanese reading, writing, and conversing skills preferred.


Description of work content includes:

1) Computer designing (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator proficiency preferred)

2) Email / Phone correspondence

3) Packing, shipping, unpacking artworks

4) Preparation of other documents (Word, Excel proficiency a must)

5) Assisting with opening reception of exhibitions

6) Researching art-related medias and galleries

7) Assisting with other gallery staff member


Please email a short introduction with resume attached to

We will contact those we are interested in conducting an interview with.

“Bamboo Exposed” is extended until July 7 due to the enthusiastic reception!


“Bamboo Exposed: Mastery in Modernity of Hafu Matsumoto – Exploring the lineage of Take-Kôgei bamboo from Rokansai and Shokansai Iizuka” is extended until July 7* due to the enthusiastic reception!

Matsumoto’s Bamboo baskets catch light and create dramatic shadows. Flower arrangements make bamboo baskets come alive.
Do not miss this beautiful show!

*Gallery will be closed from July 1st – 4th.

Thank you for joining our Gallery Talk: Hafu Matsumoto with Mari Iizuka “Regarding the Iizuka family; and what is the Life of Bamboo?” !

The Gallery Talk at Ippodo Gallery on June 13, 2017

The bamboo artist, Hafu Matsumoto and Mari Iizuka ( only daughter of Shokansai, granddaughter of Rokansai Iizuka ) talked about bamboo weaving, the tradition and process.
The anecdotes about Shokansai Iizuka and Rokansai Iizuka were fascinating and they brought us insightful perceptions and visions to the art of bamboo weaving!





Bamboo Exposed: Mastery in Modernity of Hafu Matsumoto – Exploring the lineage of Take-Kôgei bamboo from Rokansai and Shokansai Iizuka



– Opening Reception

Thursday, June 8, 6 – 8 p.m.

– Gallery Talk : Hafu Matsumoto with Mari Iizuka* ” What is the Life of Bamboo ? ”
*Mari Iizuka is a Shokansai Iizuka’s only daughter

Tuesday, June 13, 3 – 4 p.m.


June 8th – 30th, 2017
Mon. – Fri. : 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Saturdays by Appointment

Ippodo Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of Hafu Matsumoto (b. 1952), the last disciple of Shokansai Iizuka (1919-2004), dedicated to the tradition and innovation of Japanese craftsmanship. 20 of works will be on view, demonstrating the evolution of bamboo artistry through the solo showcase of Matsumoto’s unique skill. The exhibition coincides with Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection, which reunites the works of both his teacher Shokansai and his father, the master Rokansai, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this June.

The Bamboo Legacy

Although bamboo has been prized for thousands of years as a functional material, the Iizuka family led the life of modern bamboo. The legendary Take (bamboo)-Kôgei (craft) master Rokansai Iizuka’s (1890-1958) life’s ambition was to bring flattened bamboo art to the forefront. He was among the earliest pioneers striving to showcase bamboo as a significant art. His strong will and and extensive artistic training in drawing, painting, calligraphy, and poetry infused his interest in bamboo with a diverse range of knowledge and style.

Because Rokansai studied Sadô (tea ceremony) and Ikebana (flower arrangement), he manifested three styles of tea ceremony and brought them into Take- Kôgei. Iizuka’s bamboo wares are in one of three categories: Shin (真), Gyou (行), and Sou (草). Shin is characterized by elegant attention to detail in technique, while Gyou is a more relaxed. The earthiness and simplicity of the Sou style renders it the most difficult. Sou, known as wabi-sabi, is beautiful in its imperfection. In its reflection of reality, the true challenge is revealed.

Shokansai was Rokonsai’s son. He pursued basketry under the family’s legendary master. He enhanced Rokansai’s efforts in bamboo with the prized embroidered plaiting technique, Sashiami, as well as bundled plaiting, Tabaneami, and irregular ‘cracked ice’ plaiting, Hyoretsuami. As his career progressed, the dedicated Shokansai received the honor of Living National Treasure in 1982.

Hafu Matsumoto Today

Deriving from bamboo’s humble heritage and Rokansai’s groundbreaking technique, Matsumoto was Shokansai’s last apprentice. As such, Matsumoto’s work guards Japanese functional traditions while innovating bamboo as a sculptural form. His methodology at once embraces yet opposes the original traditions, challenging in its bridge between bamboo’s artistic future and its past. That Matsumoto is one of few living artists upholding these three techniques today is rare and significant.

Rokansai developed the Noshitake technique in Sou, but only Hafu Matsumoto has reprised it. The bamboo is carefully boiled, stretched, and ironed flat for its final smooth and malleable texture. It is hard work but the passion for the craft takes precedence, and the desire to present every aspect of the unmarred bamboo at its highest quality. As Matsumoto has said, “I weave bamboo with my pleasure. I weave by my body and mind, not by my hand.”

Hafu Matusmoto’ s current Noshitake took shape by trial and error. He learned the process himself through careful study. There are two general techniques within this bamboo art: Ami (Weaving) or Kumi (Crossing). This new development, Noshitake, does not belong to either one.

He continues to train in the traditional martial art and sword practice of I-ai dô, and studied Kendô, Japanese fencing, in childhood. He applies this discipline to the crafting of bamboo arts, treating it like the dō (way) he still studies today.

Bamboo is the severest material in Japanese Kôgei. Its endurance is reminiscent of a person of principle; its unbending nature esteemed mimic a strong, open mind. Like bamboo, the artist and his work have a straightforward and independent spirit: deceptively simple, yet all-encompassing. Much of the artist’s process is based in the preparation of the bamboo itself. Craftsman face the rawness of nature, held captive by the material’s properties. While these bamboo challenges can break the spirit like a dull blade, the obstacles are what make Take-Kôgei so unique.

Ultimately, Ippodo Gallery’s commitment to harmony in the natural world is consistent in this exhibition. Bamboo’s unyielding nature and the integrity of the form preserve the earth’s untouched beauty.

Artist Bio

Hafu Matsumoto was born in Haneda, Tokyo, in 1952, and began apprenticing for Shokansai Iizuka in 1972. In 1976, he opened his first studio in Kyoto, subsequently moving to his present studio in Tateyama City, Chiba Prefecture. He has held solo shows in Tokyo, and been featured in group shows across Japan, New York, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. He accepted the Chairman’s prize at the 61st Japan Traditional Kogei Exhibition in 2014.

For more information and to view an online catalogue, please visit our Exhibition page, or see our official press release.