Ceramic Artist Profile

Kanzan Shigeta

ceramic artist Kanzan Shigeta's name in Japanese

In 1889, a young ceramic artist named Kanzan Denichi presented his porcelain works at the Paris World Exposition, proudly winning the gold medal for the best ceramic entry at the fair's Japanese pavilion and forever setting the Kanzan name in ceramic history books in Japan.  Thereafter, Kanzan's reputation spread across Japan and abroad, reaching its apex when he became purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency, providing porcelain pieces that Emperor Meiji would give as gifts to foreign dignitaries visiting Japan.

Kanzan Shigeta is the eighth in a long, unbroken lineage of Kanzan ceramic artists.  In 1995, he started his formal apprenticeship under his father, Kanzan Denshichi VII, learning how to master the colorful iro-é brushwork and intricate overglaze patterns that had preserved the "Kanzan porcelain" appellation for over a century.

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Kanzan Shigeta


Born in Kyoto


Graduates from Kyoto Prefectural School for Ceramic Arts Training


Begins apprenticeship under Kanzan Denshichi VII at Kanzan Denshichi-gama Kiln


Duo exhibition, Tenmaya Dept. Store Gallery, Fukuyama


Duo exhibition, Daimaru Dept. Store Gallery, Osaka


Solo exhibition, Sogo Dept. Store Gallery, Hiroshima


Although the detailed geometry in traditional Japanese patterning on porcelain intrigued him, Kanzan began to feel that his work needed another dimension, quite literally, to distinguish it from that of his predecessors'.

He began experimenting with mentori, a forming technique where leather-hard clay is cut away in facets, and taking it to new extremes.  The sculpted surface that he was trying to achieve would require a thicker body which, in the refined genre of porcelain where thinner is better, is nearly unheard of.

Undaunted by the technical challenge, Kanzan spent years learning the nature of porcelain clay, how it shrinks in the kiln, and how to achieve his sculpted vision while still preserving a sense of delicacy.

Today, Kanzan Shigeta's work is largely characterized by traditional Japanese motifs or arabesques done in cobalt blue sométsuké overglazes and presented to the viewer three-dimensionally on skillfully formed porcelain pieces.  Deeply faceted geometric patterns and swirling, terraced ridges are the trademarks of his craft.


Kanzan Shigeta holds regular exhibitions, both solo and group, at major department store galleries across Japan, including Daimaru, Sogo, and Tenmaya.


exhibition image

Osaka Daimaru Gallery Exhibition

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Potter's Insignia

Kanzan Shigeta's works are signed on the footring with the kanji characters for "Kanzan" - his surname.  The wooden presentation box holds the artist's full name and the present-day name of the kiln - Kanzan Denshichi-gama.