Shino pottery was first fired during the Momoyama era (1568-1603) at kilns in Minō (central Japan), and its appearance marked a dramatic shift in the evolution of Japanese ceramic art. Its humble tone and characteristic citrus skin-like texture attracted the eyes of tea ceremony practitioners of the day who incorporated shino into the evolving art of chanoyu, or Japanese tea ceremony.
Hailing from Kyoto's Yawata district, ceramic artist Suzuki Tomio has reinvigorated the world of shino with his provocative clay creations of incredible tactile richness and creative energy. Unlike the shino works of old, lavish applications of feldspar, deep crackles and bold brushwork are the trademarks of his craft.
Born in Kyoto
Establishes own kiln in Yahata District, Kyoto
Begins specializing strictly in shino glazes
Published in the Kansai Area Museum Review
Wins award for best shino entry, Oribe Commemorative Exhibition, Shiga Prefecture
Kyoto Takashimaya Gallery Exhibition
Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Exhibition, Tokyo
Work acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Works acquired by the University of Durham's Oriental Museum, United Kingdom
Mitsukoshi Isetan Gallery, Osaka
Suzuki Tomio's works are based primarily upon three types of shino: traditional shino which is usually white, nezumi (lit. "mouse" or grey), and aka (red). The difference between them lies in the use of an iron oxide-rich sediment, called onita, which is found in certain riverbeds in Japan.
Through years of experimentation with firing and slight refinements to the amount of onita, Suzuki has been able to create a number of signature glazes while still faithfully adhering to the shino making techniques established centuries earlier. One of the most notable is his yōhen-kin. First introduced in 2003, this type of shino is an opulent, golden glaze and has come to serve as the predecessor for a number of lustrous glazes in the artist's growing body of shino work.
There is one exception, however, to the shino lineages in Suzuki's glazing repertory - a lustrous black glaze named kokuyōsai. Inspired by The Inferno, kokuyōsai is accented with red and white feldspar drip details that dance wildly around a black manganese base, like smoke and flame from Danté's Divine Comedy. It is fired in similar fashion to the artist's shino glazes.
Yet, to further enhance the tactual appeal of his works, Suzuki Tomio approaches every unglazed pot like a landscape architect would an undeveloped plot of earth. It first requires slow, thoughtful sculpting before anything is lain upon it. As a result, his vases and tsubo jars invite curious hands to explore their terraced surfaces, deeply cut ridges, and winding vistas.
Along this sculpted path, Suzuki Tomio has secured his position as one of Kyoto's most outstanding contemporary ceramic artists.
Suzuki Tomio holds regular exhibitions across Japan at major department store galleries, including Takashimaya, Hanshin, and Mitsukoshi. In 2011, his work was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for display in their East Asian Art collection.