Conversations From Home Featuring Koichiro Isezaki

Join us on Zoom for Conversations From Home
featuring artist Koichiro Isezaki
with curator and writer Glenn Adamson and Louise Cort, craft historian and curator emerita for ceramics, Freer and Sackler, Smithsonian Institution.
Koichiro Isezaki will share with us the philosophy and inspiration around his recent series, ‘Yo’ (Conception) as well as give us a virtual studio and kilns tour.
April 30, 2020 at 4:30pm EST
Join Zoom Meeting here:
Meeting ID: 914 8508 1028

About the Series: Koichiro Isezaki

Ippodo Gallery’s spring artist Koichiro Isezaki demonstrates his contemporary studio practice through series of provocative, sculptural, yet minimal, vessels and forms.

‘Yo’ Series

The series ‘Yo’ (Conception) comes from an investigation in artistic process. 

Koichiro Isezaki, while making vessels, began to question the act of his own art making – “which decides the form? Inside or outside? I realized it is Both simultaneously” Through pushing the clay from inside, Isezaki watches as the slightest amount of pressure and turn of his hand can change the profile, demeanor, and atmosphere of his form; bellowing, curving, thinning, and shortening. With motions created from the inside, the form begins to shift, reflecting the soft manipulation of Isezaki’s hand. “Twisting the space from inside, I started to create this form.. I think this form shows [that] something living is moving inside or breathing deeply”. 

Placed in a sagger and wrapped carefully in rice straw, each vessel in the ‘Yo’ series emerges from the kiln with their own individual Hidasuki (red flashing) pattern. The markings of a lively, energetic, fire. The pieces absorb the life of the fire through ash deposits, red flashing, subtle glaze, and sporadic, freckled, texture. Through the series, Isezaki creates a sense of breath.


Pulse’ Series

The ‘Pulse‘ series is Koichiro Isezaki’s take towards a more expressionist, spirited artistic process. 

Each piece marks a second in time – the moment that the extruded form hits a surface – that is the ‘Pulse’. The molding, transformative act of the raw, malleable, clay body hitting against a hard, patterned and textured, surface and collecting the information of that surface. 

The series speaks to the artist’s interest in letting the clay perform. The process of creating Bizen ware itself is performative, spontaneous, and unpredictable; the action of hitting the form against a surface, changing its profile in a split second, is similar to that of the firing process. The flames, surrounding each piece as ash falls from the roof of the kiln, scattering and melting onto these pieces, transforms the overall aesthetic of the piece in a split second. Isezaki creates a different canvas for that performance. The manipulation of the clay, the memory of the clay body, and the unpredictability of time is reflected through this series.

Bizen Tea bowls 

Unique to Koichiro Isezaki’s visual language, his contemporary take on the Bizen tea bowl is organic, soft, almost structural. From the traditional red flashing Hidasuki lines to the Goma (sesame seed) texture, these pieces look warm and feel comfortable resting in the palm of your hands. 

A closer look at a Bizen tea bowl (C19705) 

A familiar form among Isezaki’s Bizen family, the tea bowl is characteristically slightly heart-shaped. The soft curvature of the form along with the smooth, seamless transition from the outside to inner lip, the piece seems to give a sense of life. 

‘Faceted Tea bowls’ 

Expressionist, textural, and structural; Isezaki’s faceted team bowls are the epitome of contemporary design in ceramics. 

The faceted tea bowl series are the opposite of gestural; the straight, decisive lines mark specific moments of decision and represent a keen eye. Each decisive cut of the clay body to remove material reveals another quality of the clay. From smooth, seemingly buttery consistency to a rough, groggy texture. 

A closer look at a Faceted tea bowl (C20724) 

This piece has direct, decisive cut lines angled by the artist to control the deposit of ash during the firing. Each side is a unique composition of color and finish. The interior of the piece displays a unique pooling of ash, creating a beautiful palette of crystalline glaze.


‘Ridge Jar’ 

Although most of Isezaki’s pieces proudly display the natural texture of the clay body; the Ridge Jar series strays from that familiarity.

A closer look at a Ridge Jar (C20726) 

The bellying of the form accompanied by very parallel and consistent lines, the piece is another example of Isezaki’s decisiveness towards and control of his material. The curved lines following all sides of the form allow for the delightful pooling of glaze along and inside the ridges.

‘Drops’ Series

Koichiro Isezaki’s ‘Drops’ series is the most abstract of all the forms in his collection. Organic yet sculptural, free yet contained, the series balances many dichotomies. 

A closer look at C20733

This piece, with red flashing Hidasuki lines and a seemingly tilted profile, directs the eye in the form of an elegant curve. The Hidasuki lines create a beautifully expressionistic composition on the form and the graceful curve of the lip, pushed upwards to nearly fold into itself, keep the overall movement of the piece contained.

A Patient Fire: The Artistic Process of Bizen artist Koichiro Isezaki

Time passes slowly in the small village in Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture.

Atop a small hill, surrounded by mountains, we arrive to Isezaki’s studio hidden between branches and trees.

Bizen tea bowls works in progress in the studio. Each piece has their own unique yet minute qualities of texture, composition, and form.

Isezaki’s “Yo” Series displayed in his studio in front of a wall of notes.

 A Look Into Koichiro Isezaki’s Studio Practice

(Screencaps from Isezaki’s Video)

By his studio, there is a mound of Bizen clay that Koichiro Isezaki has inherited from his family –  generations of Bizen potters.

Smashing the dried material into fine particles allows for larger surface area for reclaiming and making the Bizen clay body.


The clay is passed through an extruder, pushing all the fine particles out of the form as well as creating a fresh canvas for artistic expression and alteration.

Isezaki throws, smoothes, and pushes out the clay in different directions and locations.

Isezaki wraps the tea bowl in rice straw and places it into a Saggar to create Hidasuki firing; bright red flashing brushstrokes on the form.

He carefully arranges each piece in the Anagama kiln to ensure a proper firing and specific outcome he is looking for.

Split red pine-wood is used to fuel the kiln

The kiln needs constant attention and wood must be replenished during the fire

A single firing takes around 8-10 days to complete

The end result are pieces that reflect the beauty of patience


For installation images from Isezaki’s first solo exhibition – The Breath of Clay: The Life of Koichiro Isezaki’s Contemporary BizenVisit here.



Conversations in Tea: The Modern Ritual Through Ippodo Artists, Featuring Kettl Fine Japanese Tea

February 6th: 6:30 – 7:30PM

Ippodo Gallery is pleased to announce a partnership event with Kettl for our February exhibition, Conversations in Tea: Modern Ritual Through Ippodo Artists.

Kettl offers fresh rural tea from isolated areas of Japan, evolving the traditional tea ceremony by bringing the nest Japanese teas to the global community. Ippodo Gallery invites you to be a part of this evolution.

Kettl will be hosting a contemporary tea ceremony event in the gallery space tea room on February 6th, from 6:30-7:30PM.




Conversations in Tea: The Modern Ritual Through Ippodo Artists

February 6 – 24, 2020 | Opening Reception February 6th, 5-8pm

NEW YORK, NY – In between our first exhibition of the new year and participation in Asia Week NYC 2020, we present Conversations in Tea: The Modern Ritual Through Ippodo Artists. The traditional idea of the tea ceremony, the cultural and time specific ideology behind it, needs to be challenged as it does not do justice to the vibrant and contested traditions in contemporary culture.

Contemporary tea culture is a derivative of traditions of the tea ceremony in Asia. We browse, buy, drink tea every single day – the beverages consumed alone, on the way home from the train, sips while simultaneously drafting emails, are our own personal tea experiences.

The philosophy of tea can be simplified into an act of meditation and appreciation. The individual practice of tea consumption, a manifestation of drinking tea into idiosyncratic rituals, is a private act that varies from person to person. This is the definition of contemporary tea culture.

The complex modern-day tea experience is woven together by the interplay of commodities in society. You can buy tea at the grocery store: packaged in small bags, in a tin can, and even in bottles ranging from green to jasmine. From browsing to ordering, modern day tea consumption allows the consumer to participate in complex cultural conversations without being fully aware of it. The contemporary tea ceremony is a conversation of space, community, and meditation. The tea ceremony is about reflection and the conversation is an inner dialogue in which tea mediates. In our contemporary society, the more traditional movements of tea ceremony have been replaced with interactions that constitute shared experiences which have become more personalized.

Ippodo Gallery’s philosophy embraces and parallels that of the tea ceremony. In this show, Ippodo showcases contemporary tea bowls, water jars, tea caddies, and lacquer trays to promote works that represent the highest quality of Japanese aesthetics and culture. Ippodo’s  contemporary artists highlight the importance of tradition as well as its development over time. Traditions are dissimilar to art periods; they grow and flourish as our history develops. They constantly shift towards inclusion. With this exhibition, Ippodo wants to remind the world of the philosophy of tea, the flow of culture, and the beauty of community.

Partnership with Kettl Tea:


New Pieces at Ippodo Gallery January 2020

Ceramic artist Yasushi Fujihira, Having studied pottery under his father, Shin Fujihira, he went on to develop his own unique, flowing forms that are finished in a beautiful, soft, matte-silver tone. With close comparison, his forms are that similar to his father’s but carry a different sense of spirit as they hold a more metallic, unglazed appearance.

Silver and Black Glazed Tea bowl,  Yasushi Fujihira 

Silver Glazed Tea bowl, Yasushi Fujihira 

Silver Glazed Tea bowl, Yasushi Fujihira 

Tokyo Ginza Ippodo Gallery Tea House

Ippodo Gallery Tokyo has recently opened a new tea house, Gu-An in the lower level of the gallery building! 
Produced by the architect Kuniji Tsubaki, the tea room is a precious antique. Coupled with Ippodo Gallery’s artists, the space is a fusion of the traditional and the contemporary
We welcome you to our new Tea House space.
Showcasing artworks inside this elegant tea space, we offer an experience of serenity and chance for meditation, in the middle of the busy Tokyo City. 

Start of The New Year: A Visit to Shiro Tsujimura

Ippodo Gallery director Shoko Aono is currently traveling in Japan for the holidays, she is visiting many ippodo gallery artists and wishing them a happy new year.

We would love to share with you some lovely warm images from her visit with Shiro Tsujimura, master potter and dear friend.