Linearity in tradition - An article by Makoto Hatori

13 Nov 2007

Linearity in tradition

Creativity requires some preconditions. To make/create things does not necessarily mean creativity. I would like to sketch a few restrictive conditions that can be observed in the world of Japanese work (making goods) and by that describe the spirituality in Japanese work. Through that, I believe my position will manifest itself in the midst of the current information/knowledge society.

Japanese tradition is, in a sense, like straight line. The tradition is projected as a straight line onto history as well; straight line or linearity means active and easy-to-understand transmission of information. Straight line is simple, non-intelligent, fresh. It defies self-indulgence. This is an essential characteristics of many Japanese traditional handiwork and artiste, whose techniques are refined by means of repetition of simple things. Often, when instruments/tools are used in the process of discipline, they are seen with "personality" and come to be respected. It is ultimately hoped that the subject/artist herself/himself becomes fused to the instruments/tools. Instruments/tools thus transcend themselves. As a result, the subject/artist live with instruments/tools even if they become defective. Instruments/tools can obtain an aura of the sublime. The whole existence of the user comes to be dependent on instruments/tools. They become symbols. The same can be said about raw materials; work or making things is seen as a "dialogue" with raw materials as "personality".

To transcend form and look for the essence in spirituality does not mean to deny the form itself. Rather, form is interpreted as a sublime symbol. Thus intellect is denied in the perception of spirituality; the consciouness of being uncouncsious is introduced. By obtain the formality or mode, the intellect which is denied is covered up and passive negation of self is introduced. Active denial of self comes when the expressor/creator induldge in the emancipated world of play. Obtaining form and mode leads to the truth of artistic activities for those with undeveloped logicality or intellect. Respecting the instruments/tools and raw materials as symbols, respecting their "personality", makes sure that they also support the creator/expressor. Pragmatic intelligence becomes an obstacle. This leads to the understanding that it is wise for creators not to talk about themselves.

The intelligence in this real world blocks one from obtaining the peace of mind of the self. Lineality in tradition is related not only to artistic matters but also to religion. Both deny logic and try to grasp the truth intuitively. Whether the form as a symbol or the object of worship is denied or not is just the reverse side of the coin. Form and mode gains excessive effectiveness after the denial of logic and intellect. It is convenient to master form and mode in order to arrive at spirituality straightfowardly. If the essence resides in the spirituality-through-experience, it is possible for people who lack intellect to grasp the essence by reliance on the handiwork and sense-by-repetition.

Japanese culture is symbolised by its traditional handiwork. The Japanese tradition which broadcasted tidy and neat sense of beauty denies intellect and project the information straightforwardly. Repeated "propaganda" for spirituality and religious-nature as an inherent essence of Japanese traditional culture... consciousness of the limitation of everything that exists... Spirituality which stages modesty. What is required now is to explain this limited context of creativity undelying in Japanese artistic scene to the information society which functions logically and on the basis of knowledge; it is necessary to creat "the present" in Japanese art by weaving the weft of intellect and logic into the warp of linearity.

2003 - Makoto Hatori

Recent work and a picture of the Author:


From left to right, top to bottom. 1. "Mirror" 35.5-35.5-65.0 cm. Stoneware with slips, metal parts, wood. Natural glaze. Bizen traditional way (Japanese bank kiln ) fired to 1280 degrees C. oxidation, ten-day firing. 2. "Ballooning Body" 55.0x36.0x33.0 cm(H,W,D) Stoneware with slips, metal stand. Before firing salt-water are coated. Natural glaze. Bizen traditional way (Japanese bank kiln ) fired to 1280 degrees C. oxidation, eight-day firing. The mass of small wheel thrown vessles cement another reality. 3. "In the Twilight" 39.5x71.0x17.0 cm. Stoneware with slips, metal. Before firing salt-water are coated. Natural glaze. Bizen traditional way (Japanese bank kiln ) fired to 1200 degrees C. oxidation, eight-day firing. 4. The Author; Makoto Hatori, by his kiln at his studio in the Ibaraki region in Eastern Japan where he has worked since 1975.

About the Author:

Born in 1947 in Japan, Makoto Hatori apprenticed to master potter Ken Fujiwara in 1969. He them earned a degree in sculpture at Nihon University, College of Arts and went on to study technology at the Gifu Prefectural Institute of Ceramics. By 1975, he had established his own studio in Ibaraki region in eastern Japan where he still works today.

Since 1987 the artist has participated in numerous exhibitions in Japan, Italy, Great Britain, New Zealand, Egypt, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, U.S.A., Croatia, South Africa, Australia, Taiwan, Estonia, Korea, Spain. 1992, he taught ceramics at Manchester Polytechnic,Manchester Metropolitan University, Department of Art and Design. 1994, 1996, Makoto is member of Contemporary Applied Arts in England. 1996,98 Invited to International Ceramic Symposium by Lithuania Panevezyo City Council. 1997 Invited to " Earth and Fire" Craft Potters Association Great Britain.

Currently he works as a studio artist.

Artists Statement:
Human beings are emotionally moved by the conscious and unconscious movements of human beings, animals and plants - the movements as a proof of life for the mortal existence. Human beings are emotionally moved by non-living things, through the emotional identification with them, through the mechanism of cognitive engagement.

The essence of human beings resides in the consciousness of the limitation of life, the limitation defined by the death. Art is born within this limited nature of life.

The history of art is characterised solely by the transitions of consciousness. Science, to what extent it goes, cannot remove this limitation of the life of human beings. In the distant future, when people realise the limit of competing for records, perhaps people will find the real reason why they actually are impressed by competitors.

They, I think, are moved because they see the movements of life, of the mortal existence, which represent the vitality of life. Some day, records (bodies) will be reduced to nothing and all the competitions will be gauged by an (ambiguous) form of scoring, which representing the "artistic impression".

Art, an ambiguous death that silently come to the consciouness of limitedness, makes human beings human beings. My art, that is the representation of mortality.

Where to see his work:
His work is represented in many major public collections including:

The British Museum; Victoria & Albert Museum; Stoke-on-Trent City Museum; Manchester City Art Gallery; Reading City Museum in the UK.
Panevezyo Civic Art Gallery(Lithuania)
The Liturgical Art Guild; Zanesville Art Center; Gallery of Art, Eastern Washington University (U.S.A.)
Victorian Ceramic Group(Australia ). Pretoria Art Museum (Gauteng, South Africa). Inchon World Ceramic Center (Korea).