With thoughts on Goryeo:A Journey from Muan
November 1, 2013 – November 23, 2013
Gallery Closed : Sunday, Monday, Public holiday (except for 23rd)
October 31, 2013
November 1, 2013 18:00〜20:00
Shin Murata Artist Talk Interviewer: Noriko Miyamura
November 23, 2013 14:00〜
Shin Murata × Takashi Murakami Talk Show
Catalog “Shin Murata With Thoughts on Goryeo: A Journey from Muan”
Publication date: November 1
※The catalog will be sold at the gallery for the duration of the show.
In Search of Ubu
—The Initial State of Mind Vol.3
Ⅳ. Art Unmasked
Here I would like to discuss, in a parable, why we might be drawn to art and must struggle to collect artworks even to the point of our financial ruination. Although it is often difficult to understand art, nearly everyone has some sort of experience with love, so here is an example.
Art, and especially the concept of Ubu, resembles the origin of love. Why do we fall in love? Is it due to our hormones, or to a biological longing to preserve our DNA that lets us discern faces? The moment we fall in love, we feel an awe and gratitude toward some supernatural existence, saying, “This is not a coincidence!” and “Thank God for this miraculous encounter.” If things don’t work out, we feel extraordinary emotions, wondering how it could possibly turn into such a painful experience and sometimes even desiring to kill the person who has managed to disturb us to such an extent. In short, the world changes the moment we fall in love.
The same thing happens in the moment of Ubu’s occurrence in art. The moment we capture the flash of artistic impulse in our brain, we experience the ultimate bliss; when we attempt to substantialize it, we stamp our feet in frustration, realizing our lack of skill and training. We yearn, lust, rage, resent, and become twisted. Those of us who become aware of this truth about art will not escape from the allure of Ubu’s point of origin. The chances of our first love getting fulfilled, however, are low; it requires experience and practice to bring mutual feelings to a fruitful conclusion. In the same way, creation and appreciation of Ubu art requires experience and learning, and as with love, we can’t expect to encounter it when we please. If we want to encounter it, we have to be wellprepared at all times. In a way, to obtain art is analogous to increasing the chances of encountering love.
Ⅴ. Shin Murata’s Struggle Against the Impossibility of Sustaining Ubu
As mentioned, Murata’s method of generating Ubu for this exhibition was as follows:
1. Acquire a thorough, disciplined training as a technician
2. Secure a recipe for each successful outcome
3. Maintain a stable state of mind as a mere worker and a maker of ceramics, not as an artist (anti-branding)
4. Make a spontaneous trip to Muan, South Korea, in order to create works
5. Design and build a new anagama kiln in Kumogahata, Kyoto, to make additional works
Let’s now explore the impossibility and recklessness of this process. That is, in this method, the prospect of profit is utterly ignored in the cycle of generating Ubu.
In order to stay completely true to the concept of Mingei set forth by Yanagi, Murata must live as an obscure ceramicist in order to continuously generate Ubu. Exceeding profit, therefore, is evil. He must know his humble place and lead an unembellished life, because to carry out this philosophy is to discern and be discerned for having the crystallized grain of pure spirit born of such hardship. The sole reason why he must not profit is this: he may forget his Ubu self.
Yet in order for him to continue his pursuit of chance meetings and his adventures, he must secure sponsors for such adventures to supplement what he can make from the sale of the works he makes. The aforementioned Kawakita Handeishi was one of the key players in establishing the ceramic Renaissance of the Showa period (1926- 89). Kawakita was the president of a bank and lavished support, both mental and financial, on the ceramicists of his time; he was their patron and thanks to his backing, the ceramicists involved with him were able to freely experiment. Yanagi Sōetsu also grew up in a respectable family and was able to gather sponsors for and to support his own projects. He eventually established Nihon Mingei-kan (Japan Folk Craft Museum); that is, he was able to gather together the financial support necessary to implement art. Before becoming the founder of Chanoyu, Sen no Rikyu had been a fish wholesaler, an arms dealer, and an art dealer. Rosanjin, who came from a lowly origin, was deemed a greedy money-monger, but ultimately he desperately required money in order to earnestly pursue art.
What about Murata? Because he chose Ubu and must maintain his unembellished self, he cannot raise the price of his works. This means he struggles to keep his costs at the absolute minimum. For example, the entirety of his recent trip to Muan was luckily supported by volunteers. He is sacrificing something somewhere in the process of pottery making in order to secure his artistic Ubu.
At first glance, it appears as though it would be impossible to maintain such a framework of production based on persistent self-flagellation. Wouldn’t it be better to fake a brand and hike the price, as they did in the ceramics industry of Showa period? There are contemporary ceramicists that do so. This, however, is not what Murata desires to do. What then?
His only option is to keep up a stallion-like physical strength and to continue steadily producing an inexhaustible number of works for as long as his life lasts, following the ‘creativity of the people’ principle established by Yanagi; to maintain good sales, producing one huge hit after another; and to ultimately achieve a financial breakthrough. Rosanjin spent extravagantly on his antique collection in order to keep his Ubu until he ruined himself. Even after financial ruination, he kept declaring his intention to buy, collecting advances from his dealers in order to repay his depts. Out of this absurdity he squeezed out a drop of creativity and managed to cultivate a gem of his dream as a ceramicist.
There is no comfort or ease guaranteed to an artist while they live. All he can do is to keep on laboring in order to prepare a pedestal in the hopes that one day, after his death, some respectable people may enshrine his works upon it. Whether or not Murata will continue to engage in this labor, as the past maestros have done, remains to be seen. My assessment is that he has what it takes to endure the long haul.
Ⅵ. With Thoughts on Goryeo: A Journey from Muan
The body of works in this show exhibits no special technical finesse, and if you ask the artist, all you will get is a bland, technical explanation.
Of course, it is only by mastering techniques that he could glimpse the terrain beyond, but it is impossible to talk about that terrain, the ream of Ubu.
That is why artists create their art.
That is why I, Takashi Murakami, the tasteless and unknown outsider to the world of ceramics, am trying to expound on the fundamentals of the art’s origin. This exhibition is the in-the-moment culmination of the forty-three-year-old ceramicist Shin Murata’s sincere answers to the questions we have posed. Few can comprehend the moment a miracle occurs. This is because miracles tend to exist somberly, seemingly natural, smooth, and without a sense of strangeness. And the body of works exhibited in this show aggregates the evidence of such a miracle.
Open your eyes. Pay witness.