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.
“How fantastic that the Dobell Foundation could support the Newcastle Art Gallery in mounting such a significant presentation and all its public programs. What a pleasure it was to attend the opening of the Sodeisha: Avant-Garde Japanese Ceramics exhibition in Newcastle. There was a sense of excitement in the crowd of approximately 400 people at the gallery. They were eager to view the outstanding modern Japanese ceramics collection and welcome the visiting Japanese and Australian artists."
Brian Ladd, Director Brett Whiteley Foundation and former President of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales.
In The Media:
- Review | Crawling Through Mud, Catapult Dance, Newcastle Art Gallery. Newcastle Herald. 8 March 2019
- Review | Revolutionary Japanese ceramicists keep strong hold on Newcastle, Newcastle Herald. 7 March 2019