Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966)

Wildflower grasses faceted tsubo
Wax resist on brown iron ground under clear glaze
c. 1934
24 x 17 x 17 cm
9 ½ x 6 ¾ x 6 ¾ inches
Box signed and sealed by Kawai Kanjiro
This shape-shifting vessel is very rare in both pattern and form. Consultation with the Kawai Kanjiro House Museum reveals only a single other similar work in their records (that vessel, dated 1934, appears as Plate 55 in ふるさと安来に贈られた河合寛次郎のこころ[From Kawai Kanjiro's Heart to his Home Country, Yasugi, published by the Kawai Kanjiro House Museum, 1992]). As far as museum staff could determine, the mysterious pattern of meadow grasses is unique to this piece.

The dazzling greens, browns and kaki colors, which mottle together like stones seen at the bottom of a running river, display Kawai’s incomparable skill in natural glazes. Against this rich background, the impressionistic wax-resist pattern sweeps across the vase’s faceted body with astonishing certainty and balance, brushed by a hand of great calligraphic skill to evoke—and provocatively anthropomorphize—the flowering wild meadow grasses of Kanjiro’s boyhood home.

The brilliant Kanjiro sometimes behaved as a medium, communicating the inner qualities of landscapes, creating vessels that convey the energies of wide open spaces into dusk-darkened rooms. Made in a period of renewed enthusiasm for his art, and with box signed in his polite early script, this vessel is a work of an emerging artist of great portent.
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