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  • Provenance

    Barry Friedman Ltd., New York

  • Exhibited

    “Yoichi Ohira: A Retrospective Exhibition,” Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, September 19-November 9, 2002

  • Literature

    Rosa Barovier Mentasti, et al., eds., Yoichi Ohira: A Phenomenon in Glass, A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, 2002, illustrated p. 333

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Do as nature does in fire,” wrote Italian poet Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy. To evoke the crucible of glassblowing, curator Ferruccio Franzoia borrowed the line for his exhibition of contemporary glass artists at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. “Fa come natura face in foco”, on view in the Venice Pavilion last summer, represented the triumphant return of Murano glass to the Biennale after the exclusion of decorative arts in 1972 and in subsequent years. Three of the nine artists selected—Toni Zuccheri (1937-2008), Lino Tagliapietra, and Dale Chihuly—have enjoyed long, established careers. Four others—Yoichi Ohira, Laura de Santillana, Cristiano Bianchin, and Ritsue Mishima—all of whom appear in this catalog, represent the spry future of Venetian glassmaking, despite the fact that all are seasoned artists of varying ages and all have worked for many years in the furnaces of Murano.
     
    In Dante’s lyric, sound follows sense: the heavy stresses of his iambs and anapests combust on the page. Franzoia’s borrowing was an apt one. As their work moves from function towards pure sculpture, each of the following four artists is shaping the art of contemporary glass in an explosive way. In his reinterpretation of the vessel, Ohira swells his vases and constricts their necks; De Santillana collapses hers into slabs, their mouths sealed; but the viewer, confronting such claustrophobic forms, finds freedom in Ohira’s expansive surface treatments and in De Santillana’s incalmo landscapes. Mishima practices a more violent distortion. Although no longer vessels, her punctured forms are receptacles nonetheless: they hold calming clarity and profound turmoil, a supreme contradiction. Bianchin’s work, his opaque black glass sculptures and his hand-blown urns holding lengths of folded hemp, evoke the grand forces at either end of life: the chrysalis transforming in its shell (a vessel of sorts) and viscera embalmed in Canopic burial jars.
     
    Another line from the Divine Comedy comes to mind: “A great flame follows a little spark.” Certainly Murano’s thousand year tradition of glassmaking is no little spark. However, as the following lots show, these four artists are keeping the fires banked.

  • Artist Biography

    Yoichi Ohira

    Japanese • 1946

    Glass art – hard, fragile, cold and often heavy – is not typically designed to be handled. Yoichi Ohira's luminous blown glass vessels, however, offer an exception to this trend. They are small and light enough to be turned in one's hands like a Wunderkammer specimen, inviting the viewer to admire his abstracted design vocabulary of gemstones, polished ivory, veined rocks, shimmering water, agate, moss and lichens. Ohira has been compared to Emile Gallé for his ability to emulate the natural world in glass. Comparisons may also be drawn to Jean Dunand's bronze vessels, Japanese rokusho patina and Otto Natzler's volcanic glazes – an impressive range of media to be translated into glass.

    Yoichi Ohira graduated from the Kuwasawa Design School, Tokyo in 1969. Shortly thereafter he took up a glassblowing apprenticeship at the Kagami Crystal Company, Ltd. In 1973 Ohira moved to Venice to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti; he graduated in 1978 earning the highest possible grade for his thesis, "The Aesthetics of Glass." In the late 1980s Ohira began collaborating with Murano glassmakers, earning the "Premio Selezione" of the Premio Murano in 1987.

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196

“Fili Rossi con Finestre” vase

2002
Hand-blown glass canes with murrine and powder inserts, gold leaf.
10 1/8 in. (25.7 cm.) high.
Executed with Maestro Livio Serena and Maestro Giacomo Barbini, Anfora furnace, Murano, Italy. Underside painted with “Yoichi Ohira/M˚L Serena/M˚g Barbini/Friday 12-4-2002/Murano.”

Estimate
$3,000 - 5,000 

Sold for $6,875

Design

9 June 2010
New York