Sométsuké has deep roots in charcoal ink and brush paintings from ancient China. Over the centuries, it has come to characterize a certain type of Japanese ceramics produced in the area below Kyoto's majestic Kiyomizu Temple. Called Kiyomizu-yaki (Kiyomizu ware), this white porcelain is immediately recognizable by its cobalt blue sométsuké brushworked images of mountainsides and seascapes.
Sitting at the doorway of a massive gas-fired kiln at Rokusai-gama (Rokusai Kiln), Murata Tetsu talks proudly about how his father, Konosuké I, nurtured his interest in painting and calligraphy very early in his life. Today, this second-generation sométsuké artist takes the lessons from the past and applies them to a different type of canvas.
Born in Kyoto
Begins apprenticeship under Konosuké I (father), Rokusai Kiln, Kyoto
Hold first solo exhibition at Kyoto Takashimaya Gallery Sogo Gallery, Osaka
Assumes the artist name Konosuké II
2000 to present
Holds annual exhibitions at Takashimaya Gallery, Osaka
Employing the same sométsuké brush techniques he learned from his father, Murata Tetsu, now Konosuké II, has developed his own distinctive style over the years. He views an unglazed cup or bowl as a ceramic canvas anticipating the first stroke from the painter's brush.
Unlike other makers of Kiyomizu-yaki, however, who tend to focus on neatly formed symmetrical patterns, Murata's brushwork is more painterly and self-expressive - done in quick, energetic strokes and without the aid of ruled lines.
For the artist, the transition from canvas to porcelain was hardly an easy one. Unlike painting or calligraphy, where paper holds a two-dimensional image, sométsuké demands a keen understanding of how perspective changes in the third dimension. A skillful hand isn't enough. He must be able to envision what a remote farming village nestled in the mountains looks like when warped by the depth of a bowl or the curvature on the inside of a tea cup.
With both mind and hand obeying the laws of physics, Murata Tetsu produces enchanting porcelain pieces that tell stories of pastoral life from ages past in perfect perspective.
Murata Tetsu's works are signed around the footring with the kanji characters "Rokusai" - the name of his kiln. The wooden presentation box is signed with Murata's artist name, Konosuké, and stamped. The kiln's name is written at the right.