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Glass Candy

Glass Candy

Suzanne Perrault on the Delectable Designs of Yoichi Ohira

29 September 2016

Works by Japanese glass artist Yoichi Ohira are always welcome at Rago, and our upcoming October Design Auction series, 10/14-16, will see 13 of his luminous works of art cross the auction block.

Yoichi Ohira was born in Japan in 1946 and studied fashion at Tokyo’s Kuwasawa Design School. Upon graduating from college in 1969, Ohira changed career tracks to pursue a lifelong infatuation with glass. He went to work as a glassblower’s apprentice in his native Japan. He then relocated to pursue his studies on the island of Murano, the historic heart of Venice’s glass production, inspired by a television program on the island’s art and industry.

Ohira’s work infuses the restrained, natural forms of Japan with the interior fireworks of Murano’s glass, employing murrine (mosaics), glass canes, and glass powder adopted from Murano’s traditional glassblowing techniques. His quiet forms vibrate with the power of Muranese colors that emerge through surfaces with the tactile brush of moss or worn sea glass.

Co-director of Rago’s 20th/21st C. Design Department, Suzanne Perrault, is a great admirer of Yoichi Ohira’s work. We sat down with her ahead of the October Auctions to find out which of the pieces in the sale were her favorites. Here’s what she had to say…

“I don’t like to pick favorite glass vessels by Yoichi Ohira, because I want to hug them all like babies or eat them like candy. Ohira used so many varied and interesting techniques that it’s almost impossible to zero in on any particular one. It would be disrespectful to the others, making them “less than” - and they are unequivocally not that. Some let light through like a prism. Others purposefully don’t and are so perfectly opaque they could be made of stone. Some are smooth and soft to the touch, others carved with lots of tiny inciso marks or large, flat battuto. Some are very decorative and busy, while others are whisper-quiet. I selected three vessels with different properties to highlight. It could have been any other.”

Lot 251: Untitled Glass Vase
Estimate: $6,000 – 8,000

“Tall for Ohira, this gourd-shaped piece was blown of blue canes, a blue that is perfectly at home between the sky and the lagoon of Venice. The powdered outlines of the murrine design are delicate and understated, giving the “skin” the appearance of cut bamboo stalks. Once cooled, the piece was carefully carved all over in a gentle velato - small, labor-intensive cuts which refract the light and give the surface a slightly rustic appearance. The gourd shape recalls Asian porcelains. The applied lip wrap, a typical Ohira touch, adds a final ’pop.’”

Lot 252: Fondamente e Rii di Venezia Vase
Estimate: $9,000 – 14,000

“This Fondamente e Rii di Venezia vase synthesizes smooth, opaque powdered surfaces and milky murrine patterns with limpid, water-blue vertical panels, carved in inciso with what could be interpreted as little waves. Light penetrates and illuminates only a portion of the piece, a favorite Ohira affect. The top is so attractive and interesting that we featured it on the cover of the auction catalog. The red lip-wrap draws the eye in to the bold and diminutive detail.”

Lot 1502: Cristallo Sommerso N. 22 Vase
Estimate: $8,000 – 12,000

“An unusual series for Ohira, the Cristallos are conspicuously devoid of color, instead appearing like carved blocks of ice - a vase within a vase. Very sophisticated, carved inside and out, this ca. 2007 series was modeled after the human torso. While not for collectors who prefer to bathe in Ohira’s brilliant hues, this series is extremely appealing to others who like to witness what the master could accomplish and which boundaries he could push.”

See all of Yoichi Ohira’s work coming to auction at Rago here.

And examine the work of other makers of contemporary art glass - Dale Chihuly, Lino Tagliapietra, Jon Kuhn and many more - here.