In a recent description, I made a point of emphasizing that the scope and breadth of Ichi’s art made the carver ‘about as far from a one-trick pony as it gets’. Sometimes I find it a pity that describers, with the largest and most nuanced/specific language at their disposal, fall into a routine of using set groups of adjectives/superlatives in their work, and worse, an almost ‘premade stash’ of phrases assigned to a given carver… and I may be the worst offender of all. When talking about Kitahara, ‘oceanic’ will be mentioned (either directly or indirectly) at a frequency that would rival describing fire as ‘hot’. Indulge me a tick, and take a look at the pipes on Ichi’s page. Aside from aquatic-inspired undulation, what other commonality do his pipes share, an aesthetic even more prevalent than the oceanic?
“Ding! Ding! Give that observant collector a ‘see-gar’ (which is even better than a cigar). Yep, implied momentum. Setting aside his staunchly traditional Danish-inspired shapes (where there is no aquatic any way), Kitahara will often create imaginative forms sans wave aspects, but I can’t recall more than a couple of Ichi’s briars that didn’t convey a palpable sense of forward motion. Take a glance at this wickedly accelerating Acorn; the backward sweep of the front of the bowl, the streamlined ‘contrail’ formed by the ferrule, stem and bit, how about that ‘spoiler’ on the rear of the rim? Yeah, quite cool, even cooler is the fact that the terminal angle of that spoiler points directly at the top lip of the bit (used a ruler). Is there some Nami (wave) in here? Sure, the rim, but like any Kitahara which contains Nami elements, the ”Yose-nami” (the actual movement/rise/fall of the wave) always carries a subtle individuality.
--R. ‘Bear’ Graves