|Brand: Takashi Tanimoto|
Takashi Tanimoto, a master of traditional Iga-yaki, is known in large part for the unique spin he puts on that ancient style. His pieces feature layers and layers of the burnt patina that define the style, each formed during several stints in a wood-fired kiln, giving them a rich and complex visual appeal. While they eschew any sort of bright color, Tanimoto’s works nevertheless leave a vivid impression.
The art of ceramics is like that of music, Tanimoto explains. “It’s fine to play classical music as written, but ad-lib and improvisation, a la jazz, also has its appeal. Why shouldn’t there be improvisation in ceramics as well?”
Tanimoto’s family has a history of pushing the envelope in Iga-ware. His grandfather, Kosei Tanimoto, helped revive the most ancient version of the style, known as ko-Iga, for the modern era, and his father, Kei Tanimoto, is famed as an Iga-ware artisan. It is this lineage that lets Takashi Tanimoto riff on the craft as he does, earning him avid fans.
Born in 1978, Tanimoto developed an intimate knowledge of the ceramics business from a young age, despite receiving no direct instruction from his father or grandfather. He was particularly drawn to the beautiful imperfection of ko-Iga pieces from the late 16th century. “They’re asymmetrical, and feel somehow ephemeral – it’s an imperfect beauty,” Tanimoto says, explaining that he wanted to reinterpret the Iga style to fit a more modern sensibility.
Tanimoto began studying ceramics in earnest at the age of 23. He graduated from Kyoto Prefecture’s technical school for ceramics in one year, and then apprenticed himself to the ceramics artist Tadashi Mori.
At the age of 26, he spent a year studying his craft in Italy, taking in a wide array of works while traveling around the country.
“Ko-Iga from the late 16th century – that is to say, the Azuchi-Momoyama period – was heavily influenced by foreign cultures. I wanted to experience that culture for myself,” he says of his trip abroad.
After returning to Japan, Tanimoto spent a number of years studying native Iga clay and refining his own methods for firing it – and thus the style he is renowned for today. Take a look at his expert riffs on classic pieces, and enjoy.
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