In September 1979 Newcastle Region Art Gallery hosted the exhibition SODEISHA: Avant-Garde Japanese Ceramics featuring 32 members of the Sodeisha group of artists including founding members Kazuo Yagi (1918-1979), Osamu Suzuki (1926-2001) and Hikaru Yamada (1924-2001). The exhibition was an initiative of the Australian Gallery Directors Council in association with the Crafts Board of the Australia Council and toured six other capital city galleries until May 1981. At the conclusion of the tour, the Sodeisha group elected to gift 58 of the 62 works of art to Newcastle Art Gallery. Consequently, the Gallery holds one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics by this important group of artists outside of Japan.
Sodeisha literally translates from Japanese as "Crawling through mud" and the significance of the group lies in its widely held reputation for pioneering a contemporary aesthetic in Japanese ceramics following the opening up the country in the aftermath of the Second World War and exposure to Western art movements. Formed in Kyoto in 1946 many of the Sodeisha artists came from families with long histories of making traditional ceramics. Influential and at times quirky, the Sodeisha group of artists broke free from traditional ceramic practices, producing largely non-functional, works that they termed ‘objet’.
In 2019 SODEISHA: connected to Australia celebrates this significant collection with the inclusion of ten contemporary ceramic artists from Australia and Japan featuring alongside the Gallery's Sodeisha collection to form a dialogue between this important post war avant-garde movement and contemporary ceramic arts practice today. A highlight of the exhibition is invited ceramic artist Satoru Hoshino, an original member of the Sodeisha group and exhibitor in the 1979 exhibition who will travel to Newcastle to create a major installation and conduct a series of masterclasses providing a living link to the past and present of the Sodeisha group both in Japan and Australia.
This exhibition is supported by the Dobell Exhibition Grant, funded by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and managed by Museums & Galleries of NSW.
Video by John Cliff
Banner images (left to right):
Satoshi SATO Special course n.d ceramic, overglaze 56.0 x 38.0 x 9.0cm
Kazuo YAGI Design plan (Face) 1977 black-fired earthenware 28.0 x 18.0 x 18.5cm
Katsuyo MAEDA Work 2 n.d ceramic 39.5 x 21.0 x 7.0cm
All artworks are gifts of members of the Sodeisha Group 1981 Newcastle Art Gallery collection