The Sodeisha Group:
An Era Born Out of Avant-garde Ceramics
With a focus on the avant-garde ceramic arts group Sodeisha (Crawling through Mud Association), which played a central role in Japan’s ceramic world in the post-World War II period, The Sodeisha Group: An Era Born Out of Avant-garde Ceramics, explores the environment and activities contemporary with that generation.
This is the first Sodeisha exhibition to introduce its entire activities from a historical perspective. It was held at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, from 19 July to 24 September. It will travel to three other venues: The Museum of Fine Art, Gifu, Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art, and Musée Tomo in Tokyo.
After the dissolution of its predecessor Seinen Sakutoka Shudan (Young Pottery Making Collective), Sodeisha was formed in 1948 by five ceramists: Kazuo Yagi, Hikaru Yamada, Osamu Suzuki, Tetsuo Kano, and Yoshisuke Matsui, all of whom were active in the Gojo-zaka area of Kyoto, the centre of kyo-yaki, Kyoto ceramics. The name “Sodeisha” (lit. “Crawling through Mud Association”) is derived from kyu-in sodei mon (lit. “earthworm running mud pattern”), a term found in a Chinese book written by Xu Zhiheng in Qing Dynasty and propagated by the Gojozaka-based calligrapher Ayamura Tan’en, which refers to a pattern seen in some Jun-yao glaze that closely resembles the paths earthworms leave in mud.
Kano and Matsui withdrew from the group the following year, but Sodeisha continued to lead the Japanese ceramic art world for 50 years, with the ranks of members growing and shrinking. The group contributed significantly to the public’s recognition of a new form of expression, ceramic art objects.