Samurai Tea at The International Show New York

LKG_BLOG_The_International_Show_Samurai_Tea-650-2Zimbabwe, the nefarious back streets of Lisbon, Melbourne’s renowned gra ti lanes, Yoko Ono’s peace tower in Iceland, MONA FOMA Tasmania and now the Park Avenue Armory New York, may seem unusual sites for the formal practice of Japanese tea, but for Ueda Sōko Ryū tea master, Australian born Adam Wojcinski , these are integral to his contemporary art practice.

Starting on 23 October, Wojcinski will be hosting tea at the E12 Booth of Lesley Kehoe Galleries, each afternoon from 2pm until the 26th October. In a dedicated tatami mat space on the booth, guests will be able to enjoy Japanese matcha in the aesthetic context of a changing selection of the Galleries’ antique and contemporary artworks. There is no charge but in accordance with tea practice, a donation to the tea master is suggested.

Wojcinski’s performance-based art practice explores traditional Japanese aesthetics, disciplines and philosophy in a contemporary context. Challenging the perceived elitism and rigidity that restricts access to many of Japan’s elegant pursuits, he persists in their democratization. Wojcinski has revolutionized the archetype of the tea master for the 21st century. His tea gatherings are dynamic interpretations of traditional practice referencing
the original individuality of the rst tea masters, extrapolating this to the contemporary world of globalized culture.

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Adam Wojcinski began his study of Tea at the age of 19. He is a high ranking practitioner and one of the 直弟子 chokudeshi (direct disciples) of the current Grand Master Ueda Sōkei of the Ueda Sōko Samurai Tradition of Tea, a little- known School with an important legacy: the transmission of Furuta Oribe’s dynamic form of Tea appropriated for the samurai class of Japan. Established in the early 17th century by samurai warlord Ueda Sōko (1563-1650), student of Rikyū and a primary student of samurai-teaist Furuta Oribe, the Ueda Sōko style of tea is what is called 武家茶道 ‘Bukesadō’ today (Chanoyu of the Samurai Class). In the words of the current Grandmaster Ueda Sōkei, ‘The samurai longed for a tranquil place to centre themselves and bring quietude to their mind before returning to the unforgiving social structures they lived in. This was the role of chanoyu in their lives.’

Lesley Kehoe Galleries offers the connoisseur and dilettante collector an intriguing range of historical works and dynamic contemporary artworks that t as easily into the modern living environment as with Wojcinski’s tea practice.

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In 2007 Wojcinski was granted his own 社中 shachū (troupe) and the title of the head of the Australian Branch of the Ueda Sōko Samurai Tradition of Tea. His student base has since extended worldwide. He teaches in multiple countries, has revolutionized the art of teaching Tea by employing internet real-time video and has created a bilingual online repository of Ueda Sōko Ryū teachings.

In recent years, Wojcinski has extended his performance practice with intensive study of Butoh and the Suzuki method of acting. Collaborating with Yumi Umiumare, Shirow Kaze-dama of the Kyo Mu Kan, and the Australia – based ZenZen Zo collective, Wojcinski combines creative performance skills with the practice of Tea. It is his somewhat controversial contention that the practice of Tea is a performance art.

In a ground-breaking exploration of the interaction between host and guest and the performance aspects of Tea and dance, Wojcinski places Japanese traditions in a contemporary context for the 21st century mind – a unique artistic sensitivity not unlike that of the early tea masters of the 16th century. Wojcisnksi’s art practice is encapsulated in the words of the current Grand Master.’ … of great importance … is the creative drive of the Momoyama Samurai teaists … They didn’t get caught in established trends and traditions, they all had the passion to come up with their own unique styles and creations. This drive was within Ueda Sōko and his compatriots, as it was in Furuta Oribe, as it was in the retainers of the Ueda tradition. They all had the spirit of artistic expression through constantly creating new things.’

Wojcinski’s practice examines duality and the ephemeral beauty that is the essential nature of life. Through communion between old and new he seeks to elevate and radiate timeless truth, wisdom, beauty, sensuality, unity and peace.

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