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ArTanit Magazine

Raku, the Magic of Fire

"When the heat and Spontaneous Reactions are part of the creation"

What is Raku ?

Raku ware (楽焼 raku-yaki) is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, most often in the form of chawan tea bowls. It is traditionally characterized by being hand-shaped rather than thrown, fairly porous vessels, which result from low firing temperatures, lead glazes and the removal of pieces from the kiln (which is is a thermally insulated chamber, a type of oven, that produces temperatures sufficient to complete some process, such as hardening, drying, or chemical changes.) while still glowing hot.

Enfumage Raku - Photo credits ©Agence NikO

Raku means "enjoyment"

An appellation that hides a lot of mystery

In the 16th century, Sen Rikyū, the Japanese tea master, was involved with the construction of the Jurakudai and had a tile-maker, named Chōjirō, produce hand-moulded tea bowls for use in the wabi-styled tea ceremony that was Rikyū's ideal. The resulting tea bowls made by Chōjirō were initially referred to as "ima-yaki" ("contemporary ware") and were also distinguished as Juraku-yaki, from the red clay (Juraku) that they employed. Hideyoshi presented Jokei, Chōjirō's son, with a seal that bore the Chinese character for raku.[1] Raku then became the name of the family that produced the wares. Both the name and the ceramic style have been passed down through the family (sometimes by adoption) to the present 15th generation (Kichizaemon). The name and the style of ware has become influential in both Japanese culture and literature.

Raku in contemporary Art

From a very hard pass background and it is thanks to a poverty stricken childhood that Joe Molina get motivated to move towards an artistic path of self-expression, and it is thanks to art and its material that he succeeded to change his life and destiny.

He made himself acutely attuned to the natural world and its processes – both those that create balance and cause destruction. It was initially this awareness that sparked his creative career as he sought a way to respond to the 2009 Tsunami. Though Joe began with collage and pottery, lately he has turned to large-scale acrylic painting to better articulate the full scope of this inspiration.

Raku Firing ©

According to Joe Molina’s website Raku generally refers to a type of low-firing process that was inspired by traditional Japanese Raku firing. Western-style Raku usually involves removing pottery from the kiln while at bright red heat and placing it into containers with combustible materials.

Once the materials ignite, the containers are closed. This produces an intense reduction atmosphere which affects the glaze and clay body colors. The drastic thermal shock also produces cracking (known as crackling since it is deliberate). The result is the spectacular metallic and iridescent finish that is characteristic of Raku pottery.

The visual artist, Syrine boubaker who is specialized in painting works, already tried several different techniques like painting on glass, raku and ceramic sculpture. During the exhibition entitled “Dual Sustainability” which took place at ArTanit Gallery, Sfax 2016 she participated with both painting on glass works and a Raku pottery part of an installation mixing both natural and created objects released in cooperation with the independent artist Selim Cherif.

“Dual Sustainability” exhibition ©ArTanit Gallery

Holding a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Arts from the Nabeul Institute of Fine Arts and now works on a research Master about Creative Theory, Syrine said that she has always been passionate about practicing meditation in her artistic work trying to express a subtle, volatile feeling, a feeling that can only be felt.

This explains the use of material and techniques which goes parallelly with the self understanding and the meditation process such as Raku.

Raku pieces ©kimcé



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