Raku Kichizaemon XV Jikinyu: Homage to Alban Berg and Toru Takemitsu

16 May - 6 July 2024

Click this link to see the video of the conversation between Dr Rupert Faulkner and Timothy D'Offay at time of Raku Kichizaemon XV Jikinyū exhibition Homage to Alban Berg and Toru Takemitsu, June 2024


Click this link to see the video conversation between Raku Kichizaemon XV Jikinyu and Dr Rupert Faulkner about the 30 new tea bowls made for this exhibition and the influence of the music of Berg and Takemitsu.



Following on from the landmark 2022 Annely Juda Fine Art exhibition of Kasimir Malevich and Raku Kichizaemon XV Jikinyū in London - which was also shown at the Sagawa Art Museum in Moriyama, Japan the year before – we are honoured to announce a second exhibition, conceived together with Raku Jikinyū, of a new group of 30 Black Rock and White Rock tea bowls which will be shown accompanied by the music of Alban Berg and Toru Takemitsu; composers whose music influenced and inspired him as he created the tea bowls. There is a continuity from the previous exhibition at Annely Juda Fine Art in the sense that Malevich and Berg were both early pioneers of the avant-garde – a subject very close to Raku Jikinyū’s heart. Of these stunning new tea bowls, he has said:


“When I started working on my Rock tea bowls for this exhibition, my inclination was to work with blackness. The results – metaphors for what lies beyond language and the other side of silence – were quieter than my other recent work. By contrast, my White Rock tea bowls were experiments in the very opposite direction. I left nothingness behind me and sought to recapture beauty. Colours gushed into empty white space. I made these more expressionistic tea bowls not in response to Berg but in homage to Takemitsu. His world is one in which a single sound rings out in a white void. In its solitariness it is intensely personal. As it reverberates in the emptiness it draws out a new sound. The sounds hover before merging. Further sounds arise and merge with the others, thereby creating a diffuse, layered sonic structure. Takemitsu’s single sound gradually expands until it echoes throughout the world. It makes one think of blowing wind or seeping water or droplets of rain. Takemitsu’s spirit releases itself from the confines of individuality into time-space. The freedom it finds is ruthless and resolute. Takemitsu’s highly evolved aesthetic is one of supreme serenity and delicacy. It is born of his individual existence pitching itself against and struggling with the world. With my White Rock tea bowls I have sought to fuse my soul with Takemitsu’s unique sound and free myself into a space of unrelenting whiteness.”


Raku tea bowls were first made in Japan’s historical capital of Kyoto by a potter named Chōjirō in the sixteenth century. Shaped by hand (rather than thrown) and taken out of the kiln whilst glowing hot, their purpose was for drinking whipped tea (matcha) in the tea ceremony (chanoyu). These monochrome red or black Raku tea bowls were considered radically modern and synonymous with the ideals of wabicha tea ceremonies, with their emphasis on simplicity. Chōjirō is celebrated as the founder and first-generation head of the Raku dynasty of tea bowl makers (chawanya), who have lived and worked in Kyoto since 1586. Raku Jikinyū is the 15th descendant and heads of the Raku family have traditionally taken the first name Kichizaemon when succeeding to the family headship. In 2019 Raku Jikinyū’s son Atsundo became the head of the family and became Raku Kichizaemon XVI.


Raku Jikinyū was born in Kyoto in 1949 and studied sculpture at Tokyo University of the Arts, he then travelled to Italy, basing himself in Rome for two years while travelling around Europe. His resolve on returning to Japan was to pursue his own creative interests while working alongside his father, the 14th generation head of the family, to learn the skills of how to make and fire Raku tea bowls.


“I have chosen to devote myself to the making of tea bowls. Tea bowls incorporate the unusual sense of space and time of chanoyu in their very forms. However, tea bowls serve a far more profound purpose. Despite the restrictions governing their format, they have the capacity to contain the fervour of the artist’s quest to influence the world and his inner striving ... A world where the ritualistic and the ordinary meet, a world situated at the point of contact between the usual and the extraordinary, between reality and non-reality, the inner adventure of the individual leaping towards totality yet remaining within the mundane - such are the strange qualities of chanoyu (the tea ceremony).”


The exhibition will comprise 15 White Rock tea bowls and 15 Black Rock tea bowls and occupy the 4th floor gallery space. A fully illustrated catalogue will be published to coincide with the exhibition with new essays by Raku Jikinyū, Dr Rupert Faulkner and David Toop and can be read here.