An iconic Shigaraki vase by Otani Shiro enclosed in the original signed wooden box titled Shigaraki Henko which epitomizes the artists philosophy of relying on the purity of clay, form, and natural colors born from the conflagration over overt decorative techniques. Here dark colors scorch the base where it was buried in the embers, while pale thin ash dusts the austere terracotta clay blasted over the shoulders with a rich coat of ocher ash. It is 22 cm (9 inches) diameter, 25.5 cm (10 inches) tall and in excellent condition.
Otani Shiro was born in Shigaraki in 1936 and graduated the Prefectural School in the ceramics department in 1956, which he followed up with 4 years studying decorating techniques under Morioka Yutaro. He then moved to Kyoto where he studied at the Municipal Ceramics Research Facility, where he trained under Kiyomizu Kyubei, Shofu Eichi and Uchida Kunio before returning to Shigaraki to yet further his studies in design. He garnered his first award at the Shiga Prefectural Art Exhibition in 1962, as well as the Governor’s prize at the National Rodosha Bijutsu-Ten Exhibition. He took a position with an industrial kiln in Shigaraki in 1963, and began potting in his free time, exhibiting and being awarded at the Asahi Togeiten among others. In 1968, he left his position at the kiln, and in 1969 was first accepted into the National Traditional Crafts Exhibition (Nihon Dento Kogeiten). In 1973 he established his own kilns in Shigaraki, both an Anagama submerged kiln and a climbing kiln, and began learning from future Living National Treasure Shimizu Uichi. From there he participated in the Nihon Dento Kogei Ten (National crafts Exhibition) as well as innumerable private exhibitions both domestic and International, and was named an Intangible Cultural Asset of Shigaraki in 1990. His work is held in The Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Gallery of Harvard as well as the Morikami Museum and Smithsonian among others. For an in depth look at this potter see the article by Rob Barnard in Ceramics Monthly volume 39 (Summer 1991).