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To use, to enjoy
New York Asia Week, March 13-22, 2008

Scholten Japanese Art and Ryo Iida Asian Art are pleased to announce our seventh collaborative exhibition: To Use, to enjoy, opening March 13, 2008. This exhibition features a selection of approximately ten objects that were made for ordinary utilitarian purposes, but through the prism of time, have come to be appreciated for their extraordinary age, rarity, and inherent beauty.

The ceramics in this show range from 4th century BC to 19th century. All the pieces included were made for a particular purpose such as storage containers for seeds, crops or a variety of liquids; or a shallow saucer used as an oil lantern. These works were produced to be used in the most mundane ways: their functions defined their parameters. While we assume the craftsmen had no intention of creating something that would be aesthetically appreciated in the distant future, on the other hand, there is a certain attention to form, balance, and embellishments that belies their anonymity. We can imagine that their creators could not help but improve upon the basic form in order to make something more interesting and pleasing to the eye as well as the hand.

The earliest example is a small deep jar (H. 20.3 cm.) from the middle Jomon period (ca. 2500-1500 B.C), which was excavated from Tsukuba City, the eastern region of Honshu Island. The Jomon period takes its name from the distinctive jo-mon (or nawa-mon, lit. 'cord pattern') decoration found on the pottery from that era. The jar included in this exhibition is a typical form for the period, with a swirling everted rim and tapering body. One side of the rim is embellished with flamboyant ornament, while the other has a simple handle. The body is decorated with a nawa-mon pattern along three horizontal lines at the waist. The eccentric, irregular shape of rim is believed to have served a ritual function. A cylindrical tin water container was mounted inside after excavation to enable the jar to be used as a flower vase.

The show also includes a fine example from late Yayoi period (3rd–4th cent. AD), a storage jar (H. 17 cm.) excavated from the Western part of Honshu Island. The pots from this era were produced in vast quantities, as such, it is not surprising there was little attention given to the undecorated surfaces. However, the firing itself left a dark mark across the shoulder and brought out unique contrasts of light and dark brown hues in the earthenware clay. The bulbous vessel has a wide everted rim and rounded shoulder which tapers sharply to a narrow raised foot. This top heavy form implies that the lower portion of the pot was most-likely intended to be partially buried in the ground, presumably to keep the contents at a stable cool temperature.

A later example is an 18th century Seto ware shallow dish (D. 20 cm.) decorated with a green glaze and an unglazed pattern of five stylized plum blossoms placed in a circle. This type of dish, called andon-sara (lantern oil dish), was made to be placed under an andon (portable paper lantern) which were commonly used in households until the late 19th century when glass and kerosene lamps were introduced from the West.

In addition, the gallery will also exhibit a small selection of paintings and woodblock prints.

The exhibition opens Thursday, March 13th and continues through Saturday, March 22nd. Scholten Japanese Art, located at 145 West 58th Street, Suite 6D, is open Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays, 11am to 5pm, by appointment. To schedule an appointment please call 212.585.0474.

For the duration of the exhibition the gallery will have general open hours 12 to 5pm.