Monday, March 24, 2008

Wood-fired Teabowls

Makoto Hatori's "Wood-fired Teabowls," wheel-thrown Bizen stoneware, natural wood ash glaze 1280 degrees C., reduction or oxidation eight days in Japanese bank kiln.

An artwork has its own raison-d'etre as an objective substance. The essence of an artwork does not necessarily draw its artistic power from the subjective self of the artist. Conventionally, however, people who try to appreciate an artwork tend to regard the artwork as an expression of the artist's internal self. The conflict between the artist and the recipient, in terms of the artwork, starts from here.
In some eras religious passion stimulated the imagination in the internal self of the artist. For instance, in the Western Middle Ages artists devout belief in God --- and the internal imagination that accompanied it --- produced large numbers of Christian paintings. Painters and people who view these works share a universal episteme stemming from the Belief, which reflects the completion of the religious doctrine. Buddhism also produced a large number of Buddhist artworks designed to spread the Buddhist doctrine.
In the present era, when the uniformity of time and space is increasingly under doubt, and perceived as something more chaotic, the external world itself is perceived as containing the artistic image. Thus, the image of the internal self is understood to be its shadow, a phantom whose substance exists in the external world. The present-day sense of creativity, therefore, resides in how to find the artist's self among these external images.
It has long been the case, in fact, that the image that produces an artwork is often external and does not come from the internal self of the artist. We can readily see this in the uniform craft pieces produced by long experience (which tend to lack originality and logic) or in the fancy, smart and/or stimulating works accepted in sub-culture.
It is easy to unilaterally critisize the destruction of stone statues of Buddha by religious fundamentalists. Upon reflection, however, in the relation and conflict between internal and external images as well as in the relation between the artists and the recipients, I saw, though it is possibly imprudent to say this, the destruction as a sublime artistic performance. It is us, as well as them, who assign cultural value to the pieces of destroyed statues for sale in the Western fundamentalism called commercialism

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