Untitled work by Sugimoto Sadamitsu, stoneware, 7.75 x 6 x 6 in.

SANTA MONICA — The ceramic work of Japanese master Sugimoto Sadamitsu (b. 1935) is the subject of an exhibition that will be on view from Feb. 18 to March 17 at the Frank Lloyd Gallery, located in Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., B5B, Santa Monica.

Opening reception will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The first comprehensive exhibition in the U.S. of this renowned artist’s work is composed of 16 masterworks in the Shigaraki and Iga tradition of high-fired stoneware made for the tea ceremony.

Sugimoto is regarded as the greatest living master of Iga and Shigaraki, and he has received many honors in Japan. His work was highlighted in a 1989 exhibition that marked the 400th anniversary of the death of Sen no Rikyu, the legendary early master of the tea ceremony.

That same year, a famed scholar of tea ceremony ceramics, Hayashiya Seizo, selected Sugimoto’s work to represent Shigaraki and Iga masterpieces of the Momoyama period that are registered as National Treasures, for use in the movie made in that year titled “Rikyu,” a well-received treatment of the life of Sen no Rikyu.

The ceramics in this exhibition range from an Iga mizusashi (large lidded vessel essential to the tea ceremony) to flower vessels of widely varying shapes, sizes, and colors, from “black Shigaraki” to “glassy green Iga.”

There are five works in the Shigaraki tradition, in which the pieces are fired for 10 days at very high temperatures, and 11 works in the Iga tradition, in which pieces are fired for up to seven times for 10 days. Each firing produces spectacular “natural glaze” effects.

In both Shigaraki and Iga firings, the pieces go into the kiln completely unglazed; all the surface variations are solely the result of wood ash swirling around in the kiln and falling on the pieces, producing unpredictable and riveting effects achieved in no other Japanese ceramic tradition to such a degree.

Also on display are several paintings by Sugimoto of Zen subjects, as well as a striking calligraphy by his Zen master, Tachibana Taiki Roshi of Daitokuji, who passed away in 2005 at the venerable age of 107.

Sugimoto’s work is widely held in Japanese public and private museums.  In this country it is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pavilion for Japanese Art.

For more information, call (310) 264-3866 or visit www.franklloyd.com.

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