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Toucher le Feu
Exhibition Musée Guimet
Women Ceramists in Japan
Touching Fire
Japenese Women Ceramists
From blacksmiths and the art of forgning metal to the transmutation of clay by firing, in all the world’s traditions, « touching fire » is a form of sacred initiation. This was no different in Japan , where the metal and ceramic arts reached a pinnacle. Women were not allowed to participate in this activities. They were not permitted to use a potter’s wheel, nor did they have the right to « touch fire » .

This meant they were excluded from the transmission process that was fundamental in japenese art, in which the teaching of skills and techniques followed family lines. Consequently, for centuries, these lines of potters were exclusively male.

However there was one exception : Otagaki Rengetsu ( 1791-1875), who modelled clay without using a wheel and inscribed her poems into it.

Women were able to access teaching in universities of art from 1945 in Kyoto and from 1952 in Tokyo. This led the emergence of a first generation of female ceramicists.

Tokumaru Kyoko - L’île de Cythère 2017
Tokumaru Kyoko

The women’s sculptural works are a departure from the usual forms of ceramics. Aesthetically different, produced with indisputable skill and technical mastery, these sculptures are inspired by minimalism and the colours and shapes of plants. They show an artistic vivacity that now goes back three generations.

Fujino Sachiko
Hattori Makiko

« Toucher le feu. Femmes céramistes au Japon »

Paris, Musée national des arts asiatiques- Guimet

1er juin - 3 octobre 2022

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