Shoji Hamada (1894-1978), was the most well-known folk art ceramist of the 20th century. Shoji Hamada was born in Misonokuchi, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1894. Throughout a lifetime dedicated to making pottery he achieved international recognition and his works have been collected by many of the worlds greatest museums. Hamada was unique in that his immense influence was felt not only in his native Japan, particularly in Mashiko, but also in the West. In the United Kingdom and the USA his style and philosophy became legendary and he was revered as the archetypal ’Oriental’ potter. In 1955 he was designated as an important cultural Property or, as it is more commonly known ‘Living National Treasure. He studied under ITAYA Hazan and began a lifelong friendship with KAWAI Kanjiro when he was still in high school. Later on he befriended English potter Bernard Leach and philosopher YANAGI Soetsu; they started the folk art movement (Mingei movement) together. HAMADA established his studio in Mashiko, Tochigi prefecture, and his mingei works have been held in the highest esteem in Japan as well as abroad.
A consummate potter – a gifted thrower with a relaxed ‘nonchalant’ style Hamada’s repertoire was extraordinary. His brushwork contains such energy, his patterns, although controlled and visually complicated, seem to have been born in a moment of creative energy. He has been called one of the greatest abstract expressionists of the Twentieth Century.