The Shape of Emotions

I am often asked to speak of instances where I have been moved by beauty. Lucie Rie and her work represent some which most often come to mind.
Twenty-some years ago, I happened across a ceramics book in a London bookstore. As I leafed through the pages, I became so enthralled by what I saw that I decided I had to visit Lucie’s workshop––which doubled as her home. Upon entering, meeting her, and seeing some of her work I sensed that “this is what it means to create.” I remember feeling suddenly energized as well as inspired. When I returned to Tokyo, still tingling with the excitement from my visit, I organized an exhibition entitled, Issey Miyake Meets Lucie Rie (1989, in Tokyo and Osaka), which was received with great enthusiasm.
In this country, generally the case is that only well-known artists are paid attention and regard. I was surprised that Lucie’s work, largely unknown at the time, was so well received. It goes without saying that the success owed a great deal to the hall designed by Tadao Ando (the Sogetsu Gallery), in which every piece was displayed, floating upon the surface of a gigantic rectangular pool; the power of Yusaku Kamekura’s graphics, and photographer, Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s impressive images.
The beauty, simplicity, nobility, and natural character of Lucie’s work commanded center stage, even in such a beautiful setting. The appeal of her work lies in the warmth and nostalgia of the hand-work that floods our hearts. I have always been poor at speaking, and for me, the work eliminated the need for words and instead aroused a desire to feel. Each of Lucie’s pieces gives us a sense for the origin of its creation; each exists in a world of its own, neither East nor West.
The exhibition entitled "U-Tsu-Wa" will focus upon the work of Lucie Rie, from which a universe of futuristic creation arose, inspired by 20th Century tradition. In addition, the exhibition will also present the work of two more contemporary artists, Jennifer Lee, who has inherited Lucie’s sensibility and who has given modern ceramics a new direction; and Ernst Gamperl, whose work explores the life within wood. A rich and diverse selection of each artist’s work will be on display. Each was faced with the challenge of delving deeper into themselves via the creation of beautiful forms that employed natural materials such as earth, stone, and wood. It is our hope that the exhibition will inspire all who visit.
The hall will be designed by Tadao Ando; visual direction by Kohei Sugiura. Photographer Hiroshi Iwasaki has captured the cosmic beauty of the vessels on film; Akiko Moriyama has written a text full of love and respect for the featured artists. We could not have hoped for a better team. I thank everyone who has helped to make this exhibition possible, from the bottom of my heart.
Issey Miyake

13 February – 10 May 200
21_21 Design Sight
The Issey Miyake Foundation, Tokyo

Images, from top to bottom: Lucie Rie, Bowl,1979 (photo by Iroshi Iwasaki); Lucie Rie (from Lucie Rie by Tony Birks); Jennifer Lee (photo by Jake Tilson); Ernst Gamperl (photo by Pedro Gato Lopez).

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