Suzuki Goro 鈴木五郎 Japanese, b. 1941

Goro draws and paints what he sees around him. Crows, plants, cars, dogs, and many other things that draw his interest all come alive under his brush to dance across the surfaces of his pieces. His playful sensibilities lead him to mix clays and styles, and in his hands Oribe, Shino, Seto and Kiseto styles fuse to become Goribe. This stunning and revolutionary series of works brings together disparate traditional styles into single, breathtaking ceramic pieces. The different styles sing harmoniously together under Goro’s direction, and his Goribe works are among the most original pieces in contemporary ceramics.


In order to combine so many different styles, Goribe pieces must go through two very careful firings: one reduction flame and one oxidation flame. Since the different glazes need different kinds of heat to succeed, Goro uses some glazes before the first firing and then others before the second. This requires an extraordinary knowledge of both the glazing and the firing process, and his great success demonstrates a confident mastery of the technique. The result is a beautiful tapestry of distinct and recognizable styles of the Japanese ceramic tradition. The ki-seto style, with its incised and painted grasses, flowers, and vegetables on a pale stone-colored ground; the abstract organic and geometric patterns of the oribe style, as well as its fields of blue and green glaze; and the Shino style, a white ground with painted black crows, mountains, and trees; and the deep matte black of the seto style, as rich and supple as old leather and accented by veins of gold—all find their way into the work. The different styles come together like a patchwork quilt, irrespective of the boundaries of form.


Goro’s tall yobitsuki box glorifies the union of traditional ceramic styles just as the holy Nikko temple brings together a collection of architectural styles. Each side of his unique rectangular Oribe box shows off an aspect of rural life: birds chirping, a willow weeping, dogs barking, and a farmer working—in his hands, the box magically turns into a water jar. Goro breathes life into his work by engaging with his own travels and experiences as well as with the wider art world. He shows you what he finds on the streets of Los Angeles, where his daughter lives, or the landscape of Omaha, where he fires with his best friend Jun Kaneko,or scenes from country life in Japan. You also see echoes of Keith Haring, Tom Wesselmann, and others. Goro is having fun with clay, and he passes every bit of fun to you as the viewer. He is nicer than the guy he tries to be, and his works are more delicate and refined than you might guess at first glance. Pick up his sake cup, drink from his drinking cup, and let the fun begin!