Matsuzaki brings Japanese art to Old Town


Ken Matsuzaki, 58, a Japanese ceramicist, walked into the Torpedo Factory last Friday night looking poised and confident, ready to share his artwork with the audience.  

Each piece is intricately designed and inspired by something he has seen, be it nature or humanity. He points out one piece in particular, a ceramic rectangular twisted piece, colored brown, looking similar to a rotating version of the Washington Monument. 

This was inspired by someone turning around. Matsuzkai said, through his interpreter.

As a man who finds artwork in everyday life, his passion for ceramics came while taking a pottery class in high school.  He realized he enjoyed working with his hands.

He began studying pottery under Shimaoka Tatsuzo and Hamada Shoji. Both artists are considered Living National Treasures in Japan, an honor craftsmen receive for using techniques and customs that the country feels is in danger of being forgotten.

They never taught me anything technical, Matsuzaki said.  It was how to create. I had to learn by watching.

He describes his master, Shimaoka Tatsuzo, as hard and strict, yet wrapped in generosity and warmth. Studying under the artists he began to use a traditional Japanese folk style called Meiji. In the last 15 years he has stepped away from this style.

I need to get out of their shadow. Matsuzaki said.

He now uses a style called Orbie. He explains he did not pick up the style in color, shape or texture but in his liberation from Japanese tradition. He wanted his own expression.