This bowl is simple, unfussy, and fresh. A graphic floral pattern reaches across its top and bottom façade, arranged to fit along the contours of its curves and inside its circular face. Even the foot is gripped by smaller floral “sunbeams”, which burst and spread outwards on a surface that moves and expands before your eyes. Alive with a surface of teeming, optically dynamic patterns, it is in fact hard to believe that the object is hundreds of years old, made in the late 17th century. It anticipates the warped floral psychedelia of the 1960s, but would also feel equally at home against setting of a contemporary household. It bears an equally uncanny resemblance to the “mod” floral patterning of Marimekko, as if this piece of Imari ware was in fact an unknown Japanese precursor for the successful patterns of the famed Finnish design house.
While it rings with the feeling of the new, these plates are in fact examples of ko-imari (old Imari) ware. Unlike the multicolored ornamental patterns of later Imari, ko-imari is distinguished by refinement; these early examples are the most desirable. They were among the first of their kind in this style, rich with the simplicity and ingenuity of beginner’s luck before it calcifies into convention. These plates feel new because they are the oldest, the first, and they contain that curious energy of discovery. The discovery of the technique that Japanese potters just leaned from master craftsmen from Korea.