Posted 6 months ago
This cast iron okimono of a fish is about 2.25" long, x 2" wide x 1" high. I liked it so much that I bought three! They came with a tomobako (wooden box), ukon-fu (turmeric cloth) and some literature when they were purchased in the early 1990s. The okimono are not signed but the tomobakos are signed and stamped. The finish on the okimono is a bit rough and I don't know if that was intentional or not. They are remarkably heavy for their diminutive size and slippery to boot and I have dropped one of them twice, but onto carpet both times, so no damage was done.
An artist's biography is included in the tomobako, but my the translation tool garbled it so I had to try to sort it out. Not sure how accurate my translation is. I could find nothing about this artist who was born in 1940, so would be around 80 years old if still living. There is another active artist named Kei Watanabe, but he seems much too young to be this artist, and is not a metal smith. There was a metal smith named Keishu Watanabe who was affiliated with a Takaoka foundry.
These pieces came from the possessions of a professor who was in Japan in the early 1990s and is another piece I purchased from his estate. Actually, he had a three of these, so I bought two. He apparently had a side business in selling items he hand selected from Japan but these are the only things that he had more than one of.
I could not find out much about this artist, even though a biography was included with one of them. Artist biography included in tomobako:
Kei Watanabe was born in 1940 in Suzaka City, Nagano Prefecture. In 1963 he graduated from the painting Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Japan University of Fine Arts, where he studied under Takahiko Mikami (aburasai ) Hidesetsu Watanabe (gold work )
He was selected for and received the Japan silver metal exhibition Prime Minister's prize, Tokyo Metropolitan governor's award at the Tokyo Metal Craft exhibition. He exhibited at the Tokyo Art Exhibition and Craft Exhibition.
Presentation and production of major works in the commercial space include:
Pegasus building wall painting ( Tokyo) )
Fujimi land object (Shizuka )
Suntory space object ( Tokyo )
Madras building wall painting ( Tokyo )
Restoration and supervision of important cultural assets: Hosokawa family (Noh mask) the Tokugawa family (Kousei) ) Watari
German craft supplies to European and West German Commonwealth countries
Worked at an atelier in Adachi-ku, Tokyo
Established a foundry in Takaoka City
Guessing his small works are fairly rare since his biography mentions only large works.