Call me shallow, but I do like it when I go to a gallery that’s as nice as the art they’re showing. I don’t like grubby, badly lit spaces – I want somewhere that’s bright and airy. I hate it when normally pleasant galleries decide to show their paintings in the half dark. If I want to peer at dimly lit objects in the gloom I’ll watch Wolf Hall. Luckily Erskine, Hall and Coe pass the nice gallery test with flying colours, and the art – by acclaimed ceramicist Yasuhisa Kohyama – is great too.
The Erskine, Hall and Coe gallery is in the Royal Arcade, which runs between Old Bond St and Albemarle St. It has one of the prettiest ceilings in London and the gallery, which is on the first floor, gives you a perfect view of it. Add to that a large window overlooking Bond St and you’ve got a perfect space for displaying ceramics, which luckily is what they specialise in.
I went there yesterday to see their current show by Yasuhisa Kohyama, a potter from Shigaraki who specialises in his own modern version of the ancient Sueki method, producing steel-like smoky grey and warm tawny amber surfaces without glazing.
Kohyama was born in Shigaraki in 1936 and got his first job in one of the ceramics factories of this ancient pottery region when he was just fifteen. Since then he’s played a prominent role in bringing back the ‘anagama’ tunnel kiln, a type of kiln not used since the middle ages.
Because he uses no glaze, Kohyama achieves the colour variations in his work by firing his kiln for six or seven days, sometimes two or three times over. The slow heat brings out the subtle colour shades he’s after.
Kohyama has developed his own unique sculptural style, achieved through the use of piano wire to cut and facet the coarse clay of his native region.
Though he is still based in Shigaraki, Kohyama has traveled and worked extensively outside Japan, and has drawn inspiration from landscapes as diverse as Australia, Chile and California.
The exhibition continues until 27th February. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.