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THE RAKU: sacred cooking

Origin of RAKU

Born in the 16th century   from the meeting of a Korean fire master (Rakuchōjirō) and a Japanese tea ceremony master (Sen no Rikyu) _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_.  This technique is from its sacred origin. The objective was to create a tea bowl (chawan), a unique piece, carrying the ZEN principle.

This highly spiritual art was once used during the Tea Ceremony, the ritual of which is closely linked to this philosophy. So the beauty must first come from the sobriety of the design (the aesthetic concept of wabi)

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I primarily use primitive firings reproducing ancestral gestures.

Raku is my favorite technique. This cooking of Japanese origin means "happiness in chance". It combines the art of fire and the 4 elements. Everything in the process is   revelation business..


RAKU firing: a world of abandonment of the ego:

The pieces are all shaped by hand unlike celadons and Chinese porcelain where no irregularity in shape or glaze is tolerated. Deformations play an essential role: Certainly   perfection is superb but is not of this world. Pieces abused by the forces of nature and time are more like our humanity wounded by time and space. They bring life and an intimate relationship with nature.

This is amplified during firing during which the piece undergoes different shocks each time... in the end, it is always nature that has the last word. It is a world of the order of the sacred, where the revelations of matter depend on forces that transcend the ego...

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"We all go through the test of fire in our lives. Shock, joy, passion, mourning, accident. This is the essence of life. Like clay, we are all shaped by a creative spirit then_cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ comes the time for a passage through the fire that abuses us and makes us unique: the incarnation!"

The Wabi sabi

There are accidents that turn bad luck into good luck. The unique chance not to restore an identical initial shaky situation, but to move towards something new and continue differently.

And always remember the essence of this work:  The contours of "wabi-sabi" are those of Raku. Japanese aesthetic and spiritual concept, deeply rooted in Japanese culture: "The wabi-sabi concept celebrates the beauty of imperfection and impermanence, the very reflection of the cycle of life. It is a principle according to which harmony resides in naturalness and spontaneity and not in the absence of defects. Thus, asymmetry, impermanence, imbalances, incomplete forms and breaks come to sublimate things."

In the wabi-sabi spirit, we are not in error by producing imperfection, we do not deteriorate as we age, we do not lose our integrity by damaging ourselves: we are and remain alive, marked by the inevitable passage of time and transformed by accidents, cracks, mutations..."

From the bowl to the face of the invisible

In the East the RAKU is used for ceremonial bowls. When the West discovered RAKU, it was first for its contrasting graphic qualities   (black smoke, cracked white enamels).  In my work, it's of course  everything is used to make the invisible visible: shiny enamel symbolizing transfiguration, smoking marking the face and skin in the image of incarnation, earth, water, air, fire as matter for revelation


THE RAKU: The technique

The raku technique is a firing process. Glowing parts can be smoked, soaked in water, burned, or left exposed. They undergo a significant thermal shock and, in any case, express under these constraints the history of earth, fire and water.

The multitude of parameters involved makes it possible to obtain results that vary ad infinitum, which gives the piece, entirely made by hand, the quality of a unique object.

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Raku is a low-temperature firing, the enamelled pieces taken out of an oven at around 1,000°C are quickly covered with natural flammable materials such as compacted sawdust in order to prevent combustion by limiting the contribution of oxygen in contact with the molten enamel. This phase is the oxidation-reduction reaction during which the more or less metallic colors appear, the cracks as well as the smoking effect of the earth left raw which form the main characteristics of this type of ceramic.

In Kyoto, the RAKU dynasty has been perpetuating this ancestral tradition since the 16th century  anchored in the Zen philosophy from which it stems. On the other hand, the firing method characteristic of Raku ceramics, exported in the 1960s to the United States, then later to Europe, was reappropriated by Western ceramists and has lost its philosophical roots. RAKU has become a simple technique, appreciated for its “magical”  effect and its extraordinary   power of freedom in the creative process. Elle  harbors unspeakable potential for expression.

"My work tries to relate  to the Japanese tradition en  making a bridge between the philosophy of the TAO, my Christian faith and my vision of the sacred."

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