Mitsuo SHOJI, Gaman I - Tattoo Enlarge 1 /2
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Mitsuo SHOJI

Osaka, Japan born 1946

  • to Australia 1973

Gaman I - Tattoo 2000 Description: Ceramic vase
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: ceramics, stoneware: coil-constructed stoneware with gold and silver foil and coloured clay inlay
Primary Insc: signed on base:

Dimensions: 85.0 h x 40.0 w x 40.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.584

More detail

Mitsuo Shoji's work, like that of a number of Japanese ceramicists, encompasses both functional and sculptural objects, united in an approach to surface decoration.1 His repertoire of design ranges from gestural brushwork in the traditional Japanese mingei tradition, to black-fired works with torch-fired decoration of gold leaf and, more recently, works with formal geometric decoration of coloured clay inlays. Using the square, the circle and the triangle, the design of this large vessel is a synthesis of Shoji's investigations into the relationship between volume and surface. It reveals his interest in the marks of human intervention in the landscape, scarification and the tradition of the Japanese tattoo. Like these tattoos, which envelop the body and cannot be fully revealed at any one time, the totality of Shoji's web-like decoration on a three-dimensional form can only be sensed and partially glimpsed. Its lustred triangular sections shift in and out of reflectiveness as one handles or moves around the object, engendering a sense of close involvement with the object and its structure, function and materiality.

1 See Eugenie Keefer Bell, The Japan Inspiration: Influence in crafts and design, Perth: Art Gallery of Western Australia, 1997, for a discussion of Shoji's work in relation to Japanese influences in Australian crafts.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra