Galerie Stephanie | These common, intimate objects
Pablo Capati, Marco Rosario, and Jezzel Wee
From Soetsu Yanagi’s The Beauty of Everyday Things

Inspired by the principles and discipline of the mingei movement, spearheaded by Japanese philosopher Soetsu Yanagi, the works of ceramicists Pablo K. Capati III, Marco Rosario, and Jezzel Wee tread the line between function and form. Each piece, embodying what Yanagi writes in The Beauty of Everyday Things, is “wholesomely and honestly made for practical use”, yet does not forsake its aesthetic value; it is pleasing to the eye, but never loses its sincerity.

The concept of mingei, which translates to ‘folk craft’ or ‘folk art’, is tuned to the harmony between simplicity, functionality, and the connection between the object and its maker, the ‘anonymous craftsman’. Bonded over their experiences living and working in Japan, the birthplace of the concept and movement, Capati, Rosario, and Wee align their practices with that of this unsung, unknown artisan, driven by a shared commitment to breaking down the boundaries between art and craft. The careful balance between utility and beauty embodied by the vessels, pottery, and sculptures engenders a deep appreciation for techniques rooted in one’s heritage and history, while preserving one’s ability to explore their artistic expressions, all within the frameworks of purpose and meaning.

The pursuit of balance is an integral aspect of Capati, Rosario, and Wee’s practices: from finding ground between living and working between cities and countries, to the progression of concept to object, to their very relationships with their materials. Working with clay, the three artists, more than just understand, but embrace their medium’s demanding materiality and the necessity to entirely immerse oneself in its taxing processes. It is delicate and difficult, at times unforgiving, but in turn, can serve us before it has even been fired and thence for all time. Part of the collection is a series of Hyottoko masks, the product of the three artists’ integrated methods. Modeled after a stock character of Japanese theatre by Rosario, a mold of the mask was created by Wee. Each mask was then pressed by Capati, reproduced fifty times. A copy of a copy, the masks are hand painted and bear the imprints of the artist’s individual styles. What appears before us is common and coarse—a piece of tableware, an unassuming jug, a replicated mask—but for all their ubiquity and ordinariness, we may find the comforts of simplicity and familiarity—and ourselves, drawn back to a sense of beauty we may have grown insensitive to but nevertheless greets us like an old friend. “All of them are necessary for everyday living,” Yanagi assures. “There is nothing unusual or rarefied about them. They are things that people are thoroughly familiar with, that they know through and through.”

From the craftsmanship involved in their creation to the cultural significance they carry, these ordinary objects thus emerge extraordinary—“our most trustworthy and reliable companion throughout our daily lives”.

Text by Gabrielle Gonzales