Many young ceramists in Japan have Masters who guide them in their clay experiences. A phenomenon in Japan now is that there are many younger ceramists who do not have Masters and need a forum for announcing their presence and exhibiting their works. Nine years ago Akihiro Nikaido formed a group in Mashiko called Toh-ism to give a presence and a voice to these younger potters. He has come into his own as a remarkable ceramist himself.

His works display a concept known in Japan as Yugen: the ability to suggest, rather than bluntly display. This is an essential aesthetic of subtlety and at the same time, of mystery. Another way to think of this is to consider the minimum an artist needs to depict in order to infer and intimate so much more. It is a complete immersion in the present of a quintessential moment, such as watching a magnificent bird disappear into the horizon or the sun burnishing a hillside with brilliant gold in the instant before it disappears. The concept of Yugen illuminates why the brief efflorescence of cherry trees blooming and disappearing so quickly becomes a metaphor for the transience of life itself.

Nikaido’s ceramics never lose their maker’s fascination and love for the physical richness of the clay. The surfaces seem powdery and ephemeral and the shapes are ancient and modern at the same time, giving them a restless almost metaphysical strength. I am always amazed at how light his chawan are when you lift them. One can easily see this quality transferred to the tea ceremony for which he makes pieces as well.

On opening night ikebana Master Mario Hirama, who has worked with Nikaido many times will perform a flower ceremony. If last year was any indication the presentation was dramatic and full of surprises and we hope you will attend and see this remarkable spotlight on an artist coming into his prime. In addition to the flower ceremony, there will be a calligraphy performance by Satoshi Nemoto, and a tea ceremony by Souheki Mori.