Mishima Ritsue Online Exclusive

"If you stand very quietly, you'll discern certain qualities - maybe it just seems a little too big to be comfortable."

Heading into the summer, Shibunkaku Online Shop presents a selection of works by Mishima Ritsue, a Venice-based artist with roots in Kyoto who seeks immaterial beauty through the medium of glass. Emerging from furnace as a malleable and quasi-liquid substance, glass easily responds to the artist’s movements, a mass of creative possibilities demanding for the decisive application of aesthetic vision.

Mishima finds inspiration in nature and in the process of shaping the glass itself, often resulting in unforeseen coincidences. Combining these with a touch of understated beauty characteristic of her native Kyoto, Mishima’s works turn out to be endearing objects that concentrate and amplify light. Yet it is also the actual use and functionality that many of her pieces lend themselves to - each object is a meditation on the intersections of everyday usage and aesthetic fulfillment. Shaped through fire but refreshing to the eye as water, Mishima’s transparent art reflects the notion of cooling off in a summer breeze or enjoying the evening quiet near a creek in Kyoto’s mountainous forests.

"How can I convey my emotions?"

"I started working with a glass factory on Murano Island in 1996. After learning about it from a stranger I met at a waterbus station, I happened to visit and my path to glass opened. Each glass piece is made by a traditional glassblowing team, or piazza, consisting of a maestro and two serventi (assistants). I have been collaborating with these masters who have inherited the thousand year-old traditional glassblowing technique, sometimes as one of the sweating members, sometimes as the attentive leader.

My works are born of accidental ideas on different days. Every fragment of the day has gone into the piece. The molten glass, the movements of the serventi, the maestro’s mood and focus, my decisions, the flow of work and form, all become one—fruit of the fire. A piece of glass work starts from the thick, magma-like molten glass from the furnace. Affixed to the end of a steel blow pipe, it is then rolled over and over, until the fluid molten glass solidifies. Through this fight with fire and time, every glass work reaches its completed form in front of our eyes. This continuous rhythm of matter and action in making glass works never fails to fill me with excitement and passion." Mishima Ritsue

Mishima Ritsue
Glass Works Venice

Seigensha Art Publishing, 2007

English/Italian/Japanese, 256 pages
26.2 x 23.4 x 3.3cm

After moving to Venice, Italy Mishima started working with glass in 1996, collaborating with Murano craftsmen to produce highly sophisticated, blown glass objects. These 'fruits of fire', as they are called, are collected in this fine publication, clearly reproduced one to a full page, in a comprehensive survey spanning some 20 years of work.