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Japanese fish okimono by Kei Watanabe

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    Posted 2 years ago

    (959 items)

    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 three of these, so I bought all three. 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.

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    1. Hoot60, 2 years ago
      That's really nice! That "rough finish" really adds to the look of it.
    2. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment Hoot60! I am still on the fence about it, but I see your point!

      Thanks for loving my cast iron fish aura, Thomas, Hoot60, Jenni, PhilDMorris, Kevin, dav2no1 and fortapache!
    3. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for taking a look Bruce99!
    4. wickencrafts wickencrafts, 2 years ago
      FISH ON
    5. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for you comment wickencrafts! This one would definitely break your line!

      Thanks for loving my fish okimono ho2cultcha!
    6. racer4four racer4four, 2 years ago
      I love this casting, so nicely modeled but with character!
    7. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment Karen! It looks like it is going flop its way off of the table it sits on.
    8. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for loving my little iron fish Eileen and kyratango!
    9. LaurenRedmond LaurenRedmond, 2 years ago
      Is it a carp...? Either way it's one cool looking ancient style fish!
    10. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment LR! My guess would be carp!

      "In Japanese culture, the koi carp is a highly respected and very symbolic fish that is closely tied to the country’s national identity.

      The koi carp is thought to be a symbol of luck, prosperity, and good fortune within Japan. The name “koi” itself is Japanese and simply means “carp” in the Japanese language."
    11. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks to you jscott0363!
    12. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for taking a look at my cast iron fish, SEAN68. I went back and bought the last one of these, so have three, now. Small and easy to store and a potential gift for someone in the future....
    13. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thank you very much mcheconi!
    14. kwqd kwqd, 10 months ago
      Thanks vcal!
    15. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 10 months ago
      This is quite wonderful and first I thought it looked like something you would hang on the wall but instead the small size which I love. I know I would have put walnut furniture polish on it as I put that sh?t on everything so to speak. The box looks precious also. It would be a nice present for anyone, it looks that good to me. Weird that I do not remember it, but may have been in the hosp at the time and and TV keyboard the would not let me leave messages most often there. I wish I could have seen the exhibition the artist was in !~
    16. kwqd kwqd, 10 months ago
      Thanks for the comments PhilDMorris! I got lucky on these. They were really inexpensive and basically brand new. It is too bad the provenance for these pieces is lost. I assume that they were purchased new from the artist for resale and then never sold until the reseller died but that is a guess. I think that I only paid $15 apiece for these with free shipping. Not sure about that, though.
    17. kwqd kwqd, 10 months ago
      Thanks for checking out my fish okimono Apollo1oo1, Watchsearcher and Vynil33rpm!

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