ceramic artist — Masanobu Ando
ARTIST LIBRARY #002
Favorite dishes make one’s daily life more enjoyable and richer.
Ceramic artist Masanobu Ando, who runs “Momogusa” studio and “Galerie Momogusa” in Tajimi, Gifu prefecture, creates dishes that one would want to use with care for a long time.
minä perhonen is a company that creates products with the hope that they will be cherished for a long time and that they will enhance special joy to people’s daily lives. With that said, there were many things that we sympathize with Ando and Momogusa’s activities.
In this second episode of ARTIST LIBRARY, we asked Ando about the ideal way of arts and crafts from the perspective of the basics of daily life: wearing, eating, and living.
[Japanese art that Ando thinks]
“After graduating from an art university, I had a yearning to go to Europe, but when I thought about what I could do as a Japanese native in making things, I decided to pursue the way of tea ceremony, as I thought understanding the way of tea would enable me to understand ceramics.
But when I tried it, I found out that the world of tea ceremony was very deep. It is an art form that includes various elements such as landscaping, architecture, design, and flowers that develop over time. I also learned about the Buddhist spirit through the way of tea ceremony.”
“The way of tea ceremony alone has matured over 400 years, and ceramic has a history of over 16,000 years if you include the Jomon period (a period that continued for approx.10,000 years from b.c. 14,500). While realizing that it is not easy to digest those things and to create something new, I have been steadily confronting those things. I believe that tableware is connected to art.”
“To know the good old things as well as the new. I have always valued creating something new based on the knowledge of the old.
I have always had the desire to create things that I wish they existed by mixing together both Japanese and foreign cultures that I have been influenced by, without being bound by categories or boundaries.”
[The “tatara (a molding technique to create form)” technique]
“When studying ceramics, it has been considered important to master the technique of making the same shape on the ceramicist’s wheel quickly and in large quantities. However, I had no reason to mass produce identical pieces in the first place, And also I was interested in the materials and low-tech techniques seen below and had no interest in rokuro techniquessince, I was born and raised in a pottery production area.”
“I majored in sculpture at art school and loved carving plaster molds. When I tried to apply what I had learned and the techniques I was good at to ceramics, tatara was most familiar. The tatara technique involves digging a plaster mold, placing clay over the mold to dry, and then removing the clay from the mold for firing. The mold is generally dug nicely with a rotary body, but I dig the whole thing with only one chisel. I really like the crisp feeling when I am carving. Something like the subtle unevenness of the carving is transferred when the clay is placed against the mold or when the ceramics are removed from the mold and baked.”
“Unlike the potter’s wheel, the tatara can be used to make ovals and squares. With a potter’s wheel, one can basically only make a rotary body. I like to complete the free form created by the tatara by adding something more, such as a handle for a cup.”
[The Value of Things]
Momogusa’s beautiful tablewares with uneven forms have a unique presence in daily life. At “Galerie Momogusa,” an old Japanese-style house that has been relocated, the beauty of traditional Japanese architecture and the beauty of shadows can also be felt. We asked Ando about the value of things to him.
“I think the purpose of art is to find new value and potential in things that no one else appreciates and to give them value. I am unsure whether I am an artist myself, but I am proud to say that, what I want to do and what I have been doing is to appeal to the artistic role of everything, be it technique or material.”
“Most of the tableware are not glazed on the back, but I didn’t want them to have a back. That is why I lacquer glaze on the entire tableware. This requires more work and increases the probability of defects when the piece is finished, but I have always done it that way.”
*The small black triangular pyramid in the photo is a clay raising that is placed on the bottom of the tableware or piece of work during kiln loading. The round unglazed part on the back of Momogusa’s ceramics is where this raising was applied.
“Artist and gallery activities have been the core of my life. I want to continue to focus on those activities from now on too, and I want to pass it on to future generations. On how to properly preserve this culture, that is what I intend to build upon.
Whether people appreciate it or not, I want to show them that I like these kinds of things, so I happen to do things the way I want unintentionally.”
Ceramic artist / contemporary artist. Manages “Galerie Momogusa” in Tajimi, Gifu prefecture. Produced more than 1,000 kinds of tableware that serve as standard tableware for serving Japanese, Western, and Chinese cuisine, as well as tea ceremony utensils and sculptures. His wife is Akiko Ando, a clothing artist.
Since 2010, Ando has collaborated with minä perhonen in the event at “Galerie Momogusa,” and has co-produced and exhibited with minä perhonen and Akira Minagawa 8 times until 2022.