iki, Japanese porcelain between East and West from 1610 till 1760 is the title of the exhibition at MIC in Faenza from 26 June till 7 November 2004 .
Jiki (that means porcelain) represents a journey among the Japanese porcelains of the XVII and XVIII century that includes more than 100 works. For the first time it is possible to compare the porcelain produced for the Japanese noble people (elegant objects for everyday life) with the one for the European market ( with more coloured pictures and used to decorate the house).
Ceramics produced in that period is named ARITA, from the name of the town of production , and it is subdivided into two groups that have both an high artistic and cultural value. The first group includes the porcelain NABESHIMA, taking its name from the noble family that ruled that territory and who used to deal with the highest production of porcelain for Shogun ( the Governor, representing the noble families)
This is a high level ceramics for the materials, design and stylistic research. This porcelain is characterized by colours like blue and light blue, asymmetric decoration, natural subjects ( plants, animals and the moon) and wide empty spaces in harmony with the simple stylistic sign, in accordance with a spirit of research recalling the “Zen” philosophy.
The second group of porcelains is known as KAKIEMON, from the name of the special red glaze with an iron component that characterized the production and that has given the name to the family that produced it and that continues this production still today.
The Kakiemon porcelain was a less refined ceramics, made by the Japanese but commissioned by the Hollander merchants for the European market.
This production is characterized by the geometric symmetry of the picture and is often unknown to the Japanese tradition ( for example coffee-pot, furnishing pottery and bowls for barbers).
Sometimes the pictures represent landscapes unknown to Japanese people or European mythological elements ( for example the centaurs), large decorative vases, more than one meter high and that were often important furniture in the European noble houses, are completely unknown to the noble Japanese families because they have been only created for the European market.
The trade and the businesses around the Japanese porcelain aroused lively interest in the European producers. For this reason in 1708, after two centuries of attempts, Germany, France and England inspired by Japanese, started a huge production of porcelain. In the exposition it will be possible to admire about ten original Japanese Kakiemon close to their European copies.
ARITA porcelain lives its magnificence from 1610 to 1760, with the end of the Nabeshima dynasty. In 1650 the Kakiemon porcelains reached the excellence e of its style; the period between 1660 and 1730 represents the age of highest splendour for Arita.
It is significant that not more of 5.000 Nabeshima porcelains were produced every year (made for Japanese inland use), whereas more than 100.000 Kakiemon porcelains were produced.
This difference is underlined by a social and cultural event. People who produced Nabeshima ceramics were protected by noble people who asked them to kept to produce the highest works of art, on the contrary the Kakiemon artisans have to live with their own work.
The exposition is divided in four areas and it follows a chronological course. A first period when the Japanese ceramics is influenced by the Chinese one; a second phase of apparent closing to the world, but in which Japan, thanks to the Hollander merchants, spread around the world an unique and refined art created for the exportation ( Arita/Kakiemon) together with the art production for the noble Japanese (Arita/Nabeshima); a third and fourth section where the production from 1650/1750 is represented, and where it is possible to admire the imitation attempts realized by western artisans and artists closed to the Japanese originals.
The jiki exhibition is arranged by the International museum of Ceramics in Faenza –Foundation and by the Cultural Politics Office in Faenza with the collaboration of the Japan Foundation.
The works of art were selected by Koji Ohashi, Deputy Director of the Kyushu ceramic Museum of Arita, who managed the scientific part of the exhibition; Mr Tomokazu Hirai, a Japanese artist who has lived and worked in Faenza since 25 years, is project manager.
The exposition is the most important cultural event of the years.
Faenza is the first site of exhibition, in 2005 it will be in Paris and Bruxelles.
This exhibition allows the visitors to know the tradition of this ancient culture; the MIC and the Institute of Japanese culture in Rome in fact, are proposing a rich series of cultural events.
People can enjoy two side-exhibition: the first one consists of about thirty Japanese porcelains coming from the collections of the MIC, and dated 1620/1690 in which we can find Kakiemon objects; the second one is a selection of Japanese contemporary works. Twenty Kimonos from "Madama Butterfly" by Puccini, are grouped in a corner next to the exhibition, In the garden of the Museum, Japanese music concerts poetry readings, Oriental dinner are planned for the summer.