Are Kawase & Fukami Living National Treasures in Japan?
Neither artist is a Living National Treasure at this time. I'm not aware of any ceramic artist who works in a more contemporary vein like Fukami or Kawase who has earned the designation, though there are Living National Treasures who work in modern forms. The designation is most often given to people who are continuing to refine traditional approaches.
What is a lotus?
A lotus is a type of flower! It is a buddhist symbol for purity.
It is an aquatic plant, with its roots in the water and the flower above the surface. The pristine, white flower emerges from the dirty, cloudy water of the pond but remains unstained.
Is there a reason these pieces are grouped together? Minus the two Qing vases, the other 4 Japanese ones seem super modern. Also, what influenced the other 4?
These pieces were placed together because they are all celadons, though as you have rightly pointed out, some are very modern and some are not. In the context of the exhibition "Infinite Blue," the celadon case is meant to highlight celadon works that are a light, clear blue, rather than the milky green generally associated with this type of ceramic.
The grouping helps us to trace a path from Chinese celadons exported to the rest of Asia, to blue celadons prized and perfected by Japanese ceramicists, to the contemporary works that still aim for the same effect.
Tell me about the Incense Burner in the Shape of a Lotus.
The lotus is a Buddhist symbol for purity. It can also be read as a metaphor for enlightenment. The lotus is an aquatic plant with its roots at the bottom of the pond and its flower above the surface.
Kawase Shinobu is a contemporary ceramic artist based in Ōiso, Japan. He is a third-generation ceramic artist from a family specializing in blue-and-white and enameled porcelain, and is best-known for his use of celadon glazes, a blue-green glaze with a long history in Chinese ceramics.
How does Kawase Shinobu make his pieces? The shapes look too perfect and satisfying to be real.
I agree! Initially, the clay is turned on a wheel. That contributes significantly to the perfect symmetry. The even application of the glaze also contributes to the smoothness of the surface.