I read recently of contemporary Japanese ceramics artist Yugi Ueda, with whom a gallery teamed in an unusual way, funding him to create a body of work instead of making a tidy 60/40 split on commission.
Ueda’s typical works welcome brokenness, a phenomenon valued in traditional japanese culture... but the gallery informed him this is not well received by international collectors. He modified his style to accommodate outsiders looking for perceived permanence, wishing to send a thing back if it breaks.
Ueda’s works were completed, and they are beautiful, and a few of them are in the old style.
His exhibition had to be cut short when a buyer purchased most of his pieces on the condition they be shipped out immediately. The gallery, considering the unusual circumstances of their financial arrangement, felt the need to comply.
There really couldn’t be a more fitting ending to this success story — abrupt and happy and sad — the sound of a shatter and a tinkle.
The reader in me wants to know whether to label this a comedy or a tragedy. The writer in me answers, “only Ueda can decide. It will become apparent day by day, as he faces his newly-expanded world with either bitterness at having given up pieces of himself to it, or sweetness at having received more.”
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