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Tracing Venice

Imaemon Imaizumi XIV


Imaizumi Imaemon is the 14th successor of a family that served Lord Nabeshima, in premodern Japan, as officially appointed ceramicists for the prestigious Nabeshima ware kiln. The family has served by descent as painters of Iro-Nabeshima ware from their workshop, established and run since the Edo period. The present Imaizumi Imaemon aims to tackle the question of preserving techniques that date back to the Edo period while creating contemporary Nabeshima ware. While the techniques have been passed down from generation to generation, the philosophy is to create works that reflect our current era. Imaizumi Imaemon XIV has mastered sumi-hajiki, a traditional overglazing technique by which coloured decoration is applied to the surface of pre-glazed and fired porcelain before firing it again. In 2014, at the age of 51, he was the youngest person to be designated Japan's National Living Treasure.

National Living Treasure - the category of overglazed porcelain
Japanese government

The overglazing tradition was bought to Japan from mainland China in the 17th century. Sumi-hajiki is the technique that Imaizumi Imaemon the 14th has chosen to tackle as his primary method, using reverse patterns in white to create a soft decorative effect. The master draws patterns with India ink, and then adds a layer of white glaze pigment to the ceramic. The patterns drawn with India ink repel the glaze pigment and when fired, the India ink burns and disappears. As a result, patterns appear against the pigment glaze.

Technique Sumi-hajiki Style Iro-Nabeshima ware Objects The Ateliers of Wonders Exhibition 12 Stone Garden Exhibition Contact
Arita, Japan
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