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5/25/2015 | Weekly Highlight: SUZUKI Osamu

Weekly Highlight: SUZUKI Osamu 鈴木藏 (1934- )


In the 1950s, the Japanese Department of Education created the honorary distinction of Living National Treasure, which they bestow upon exceptional artists for outstanding craftsmanship in the areas of pottery, metalwork, textiles, wood, and lacquer. With this award, the Japanese government celebrates the preservation and advancement of the traditional arts and ensures their continued relevance in the modern age. Being named a Living National Treasure is the highest achievement for a Japanese artist. 


Suzuki Osamu approaches his traditional medium with both respect and creativity. He feels that the ceramic traditions are eternal and yet continually changing, much like a body of running water that is constant but never the same. 

He says that a potter needs to create something suited to contemporary life, and in the process create new traditions. Indeed, he has tapped into contemporary life by using a modern gas kiln. In this modern kiln, Suzuki creates a Shino glaze that for the previous 400 years has only been achieved in wood fire kilns. It was for this innovation that Suzuki was named a Living National Treasure.


Shino ceramics are most well known in the form of Momoyama period tea wares. 

Suzuki's Shino tea bowl, produced in his innovative gas kiln, is big and generous. The interior of the bowl is wide and open to allow space for whisking the tea. His beautiful feldspar Shino glaze lies thick on the surface, producing a tactile texture like that of an orange peel, and the rich, earthy colors beautifully compliment this organic texture. 


Suzuki Osamu was born in Toki City, Gifu in 1934, the son of a researcher of glaze. Suzuki studied ceramics with Arakawa Toyozo (荒川豊蔵) and Kato Hajime(加藤土師萌). He has received many of Japan's highest awards later in his career, including the gold award from the Japan Ceramic Society in 1982, the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts in 1987, the title of Living National Treasure for his innovative Shino technique in 1994, and the Purple Ribbon Medal in 1995. His work can be found in numerous private and public collections, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto organized a large retrospective of his work in 2013.


SUZUKI Osamu 鈴木藏 (1934-) 

Sino Tea Bowl 志野茶碗

H9.7cm x Dia14cm, H3.8" x Dia5.5" 

With Signed Wood Box

C.S. Jiang