Reincarnation - The Second Life of Antique Japanese Kettles


An exhibition featuring over 60 antique Japanese kettles, bonsai, and kintsugi art pieces. 

December 8, 2020 - January 28, 2021
Sunzen Art Gallery
Mon - Fri 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sat 11 AM - 6:00 PM
Sun Closed

Curated by Lin Li, Viahsta Yuan

“The past is a foreign country.” In a modern, industrialized era,  lots of eastern traditional arts and crafts are facing the destiny of being marginalized, symbolized, and defamiliarized. They are recognized as distant memories, belonging to the past other than the present, covered by dust on the antique shelf, and are far away from people’s daily life. Reincarnation - the Second Life of Antique Japanese Kettles features around 60 antique kettles from the 18th to 20th century Japan, in combination with Ming-style Chinese furniture, bonsai, and kintsugi art pieces. In this exhibition,  we invite the antiques, which are often separated and alienated, back to the table and people’s everyday life scene as the “reincarnation” of the blurry, lost memories of a pre-modern philosophy and lifestyle. This exhibition aims at shortening the distance between eastern traditional craftsmanship and people’s daily life, and unmasking the unique beauty of eastern art pieces. It is for the souls of the forgotten artistic traditions to reincarnate in this new world, under a new era. 

Featuring Kintsugi works by Naoko Fukumaru 

“过往既他乡。” 在工业化的现代,许多东方传统工艺面临被符号化、陌生化、以及过分简化的共同命运。它们逐渐远去,湮没在博古架的灰尘当中,成为一段遥远的记忆,而非眼前的日常。三生缘年度展览 ,“再生 ——馆藏日本铁壶、银壶综合展”,将展出来自日本江户、明治、大正、昭和等不同时代的铁壶、银壶,六十余把,结合金缮工艺品、明式家具及盆景。我们邀请百年前的古董茶壶回到茶桌,成为远去记忆的一重见证,东方美学的全新化身。本次展览旨在打破传统东方传统工艺美术与人们的日常生活之间的距离,揭开东方美学的神秘面纱,让被遗忘的传统在全新的时代,再生人间,焕发新的光彩。

>> To See all exhibition collection online

 

Curator Statement 

 

 

Crafts bear the weight of time and history. They are sometimes the heritages of the long forgotten past, as well as the witnesses of cultural and artistic exchanges. Most importantly, crafts carry on the shared memories of people in different times. 

Originated in the Edo Period (1603-1867), Japanese antique iron kettles (tetsubin) and silver kettles (ginbin) have a very special status in the history of Japanese arts and crafts. The beautifully designed kettles are left, as well as the legendary stories of the kettle makers and . Besides metal craftsmen, usually the well-known designers and makers of iron and silver kettles also wear the hats of  poets, painters, and sinologists. The decorative patterns of Japanese iron kettles include but are not limited to flowers and birds, landscapes, human figures, and Chinese poetries - sharing the same subjects and motifs of Japanese bunjinga (Japanese literati painting). Besides the decorative patterns, the shape, and design of some iron and silver kettles follows the design of Chinese bronze ware, indicating an archaistic pursuit of makers and collectors back then.

Therefore, the masterpieces of iron and silver kettles were cherished not only as luxurious tea wares, but also pieces of art to be studied and appreciated. When the  usability and artfulness are combined,  those kettles can  be appreciated, and to be used, to be “played with” in certain ways. In Japanese, “the wind through pine trees (matsukaze)” refers to the sound made by the lids of the iron and silver kettles when water is boiling. The kettles create an ambient atmosphere in the tea ceremony, pleasing people through visual, audio, and sensation. 

They are not only a tool, but a spirit, that interact and communicate with people who use them.  

However, in a materialistic world, the beauty and spiritual meaning of the iron and silver kettles become less appealing then the cheap and efficient mass-manufactured products. 

However, in modern society, the usefulness of iron and silver kettles is replaced by industrialized goods and products, which are fast to be made, easy to be replaced, and cheaper in price. Once a common item on people’s tea tables, antique Japanese kettles are no longer viewed as  practical items. Now they are locked in the glass cabinet or rest on the top of antique shelves, hiding in dust, and are far away from people’s daily life - a common destiny for so many eastern arts and crafts. 

Through the comprehensive exhibition, Reincarnation - the Second Life of Antique Japanese Kettles, we  explore the possibilities of eastern traditional arts and crafts, of how they will be accepted, revitalized, and reinterpretted in a new era. We hope the crafts being presented at this exhibition, as “reincarnations” of a blurry and far away memories, can inspire the viewers with a very different lifestyle that calls for slowness, peacefulness, and companionship. 

 

 

器物,承载历史、时间,记录文化交流、世代传承。 

在日本工艺美术的历史上,发源于日本江户时代的日本铁壶、银壶有着十分特殊的地位。铁壶、银壶的制作者们以“堂”为单位,开创了不同的流派,不断创新、追求与前代不同的艺术表现效果。而铁壶、银壶的设计者,创造者们,除了身为匠人,很多还是画家、诗人,以及汉学家。因而,铁壶、银壶的制作以及设计,融入了许多带有文人意味的装饰元素。他们将自己目之所见,心中所想,寄托在所制作的器物上。银壶千锤百炼方得一把,铁壶“一模一壶”独一无二。耗费心血,所造器物方能历代传承。

古典铁壶、银壶在形态、细节、装饰手法上,展现出独特的日式文人审美,以及日本文人、匠人对汉文化的独特理解。在十八、十九世纪,日本工匠心慕中国文化,从而将山水书画、汉诗、花鸟等装饰元素融入铁壶铸造,甚至在形态上仿制古老的青铜器。他们的创作,让今时今日中日两国的收藏者都倍感亲切。而在二十一世纪,中国工艺美术的集大成者——宽山堂,亲赴日本探索银壶制作工艺,保存日式银壶经典款式。一前一后,遥相呼应,展示出中、日两国在美学、文化、工艺上的相互影响,相互促进。古老的工艺,在全新的时代焕发新的光芒。 

日语中,将铁壶煮水时蒸汽顶壶盖的声音,称为“松风”。将铜盖发出的金鸣之声比作“松间清风”。可见铁壶并非单纯的器具,而是茶席上缔造氛围的重要一环,甚至可以说是茶席重要的一员,是“参与者”,而非单纯的道具。既是器,也是“神”。而古典铁壶、银壶丰富的装饰细节,雅致的形态,更加确定这些传世之器的这一重身份。

 古董铁壶、银壶在创造之初,就有很高的艺术价值。拥有”器具“与”艺术品”的双重身份。然而,世代交替,在现代,他们作为实用器的使命更多地被制作更加快速、低价的现代工艺品所替代。从乘茶侍汤的器具,更多转化为收藏雅玩,从而被供养、欣赏、收藏,而非使用、擦拭、侍奉桌前。它们的命运,映射了工业时代许多传统工艺共同的命运——被收藏化、陌生化、符号化, 从而远离人们的日常,逐渐“远去”,变成一段遥远的记忆,而非现实生活中的一部分。“传统”,成为附身的枷锁而非荣誉的宝座。以“传统”为名,敬而远之——这是许多亚洲工艺美术的文化遗产所面临的共同处境。 

本次展览,我们将这些被束之高阁的器物从时间的长河中打捞而出,让它们重新参与到与人的互动、对话当中。让被神秘化,疏离化的传统工艺,重新回到人们的视线。也让百年前的工艺,在新的时代,通过再一次与人互动、拥有第二次生命。我们希望借传统与古典的“再生”,在多变的一年,引发更多人们对生活方式的思考,并提供另外一种截然不同的生活方式的线索和可能性。