Finesse, elegance are key to success
Traditional Japanese ceramics and calligraphy presented in Sofia
7 November, 2014
This autumn the National Museum of Bulgarian Art (also known as the National Art Gallery) will host a rare exhibition showing off the phenomenon of tradition in Japan. Organised as part of the 25th Days of Japanese Culture in Bulgaria, the Tradition – Key to Success exhibition introduces visitors to the aesthetics of Nishiura yaki, a style of ceramics known for centuries now for its exquisiteness, glamour and fine brushstrokes. The Nishiuras come from the city of Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture, where they dominated production and export of porcelain in the 17th century. Their collection of porcelain was declared a national treasure by the emperor of Japan and many museums around the world are proud hosts of some of the exhibits. The family enjoyed certain privileges through the centuries for its contribution to the country and many of the family’s members were important figures in central Japan’s economic, political and cultural life. The Nishiuras created their own style in Japanese porcelain. During the Edo period (1615-1868), the family earned the right to govern and guide the trade of traditional local ceramics in the Mino-style. Following the end of Japan’s period of isolation from the world during the Meiji (1868-1912), Nishiura embraced the idea of promoting this style of ceramics in the US and Europe, bolstering Japan’s identity. Representatives of this family became famous artists and masters of ceramics, who won wide acclaim and numerous awards not only in Japan but in many other countries, too. The Nishiura family opened commercial outlets and shops in Boston, New York and other places around the US. The work grew enormously and ceramics factories were added to the trade company, giving this Japanese form of art a new breath of life. The exhibition is a combination of traditional ceramics and modern large-scale calligraphy on WASHI paper. The collection on display at the National Art Gallery features different vessels used during tea ceremonies, vases, special saucers and teapots. It was compiled by one of the representatives and continuers of the tradition of the family especially for the 25th Days of Japanese Culture in Bulgaria. Kihachiro Nishiura is a calligraphist and has a deep understanding for the different traditional ceremonies accompanying important customs in Japan like incense, tea ceremonies and ikebana. His knowledge of the tradition is profound, but his philosophical ideology is at the foundation of presenting calligraphy to the public in its true spiritual aspect, and not only as the art of beautiful handwriting but as “inaudible music” for the soul. His demonstrations are remarkable for revealing the sacred feeling that calligraphists get while creating, as well as in their spiritual journey. The calligraphies were made specifically for the exhibition and carry special messages. At the opening on 6 November, Kihachiro Nishiura talked about his family’s history and gave a brief video presentation, followed by a demonstration of calligraphy. In association with the Embassy of Japan to Bulgaria and institutions from his home country, Nishiura has been promoting different aspects of his nation’s cultural heritage in Bulgaria over the past few years. The exhibition, organised by the Embassy of Japan together with the AMATERAS Foundation and Nishiura Style, will be open to visitors until 30 November.