Sugita Kazuya: Lifework of Impermanance

Few would argue that ikebana is not an art. Sugita Kazuya’s works leave no question. These sculptures—you can hardly call them flower arrangements—draw from great creativity, vision, intimate knowledge of materials, and a refined understanding of the tradition.

Sugita started learning ikebana about 20 years ago, “just to kill time.” He adds, “I liked things Japanese, like yakimono. And I also had an interest in plants. Ikebana was a cross between those interests so I thought I’d give it a try.”

He originally learned from a friend who ran a flower shop, then began traveling to Nara to learn the Sôgetsu style from a teacher there. Founded by world-renowned ikebana master Teshigahara Sôfu, Sôgetsu-ryû allows for freer expression and use of materials beyond flowers. Sugita also cites the influence of the late Nakagawa Yukio, a master of the Ikebono style which originated in Kyoto from Buddhist floral offerings.

“I don’t adhere to any particular school, though,” says Sugita, “I follow my own style.”

Sugita’s book Kogyoku is a beautifully photographed collection of dozens of his sculptures. Self published at a considerable cost, it is a breathtaking testament to his lifework at age 56 and one of the finest pieces of printed matter you will ever hold (it’s hard to imagine a digital book doing as much justice to his work in). Each photograph is accompanied by text noting the materials used and the name of the artist who created the vase or other vessel. Sugita admits to possessing roughly 200 yakimono vases—another significant cost to his passion.

Commenting on some of the works, Sugita says, “Global warming has been a topic lately, so I made one to look like something is melting.” Pointing to another picture, he reveals, “This one was inspired by black music.” And on another, “This is inspired by rock & roll. It shows speed. I created it in the image of Buddy Holly’s sound.”

Sugita’s affinity for ikebana also lies in its impermance. “This is a part of Japanese culture,” he explains. “In a way, it’s like a religious exercise.”

Sugita Kazuya is an accountant. His book is available through the Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery.





「杉田一弥活花作品集 香玉」の仕上がりの美しさは特筆すべきもの。自費出版ながら時間も手間も費用も充分に掛けて作られた美しい作品集で、56歳になった杉田のライフワークの集大成となっている。この作品集ではデジタル写真で杉田の作品の魅力を最大限に引き出しており、その美しさは誰もがいつまでも手元に置いておきたいと思うに違いない。多数の陶芸家による花器が使われているが、作品ごとに花器と花名が付されているので分かりやすい。杉田は約200個の花器を所有しているというが、これも彼の旺盛な創作意欲の表れだろう。




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