URUSHI Lacquer - The Graceful Soul of Wood

lacquer works

March 14, 2014 - March 30, 2014

To coincide with New York's Asia Week, Ippodo Gallery will present
' URUSHI Lacquer - The Graceful Soul of Wood',
an exhibition showcasing works by contemporary artists who utilize urushi in their craft, from March 14 to March 30.

It is said that urushi, which is the name given to natural lacquer, derives - in its phonetic similiarity - to Japanese terms that define a sense of heartwarming beauty or enrichment. Urushi is the sap, the lifeblood, of the lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum) and only about 200 grams (one cupful) can be collected from a mature tree in a year. It is the strongest natural coating known to humankind. It is impervious to water and heat resistant, while allowing the wood it covers to breathe. In ancient times, urushi culture spread throughout Asia; the first known example of its use in Japan dates back 6,000 years, where it was developed to such an extent that it became known as 'Japan' in the West. The gleam in the depths of a black-lacquered bowl, the scarlet of the torii gateway to a shrine; urushi has become a quintessential element of Japanese culture. Born of the hot, humid climate and fertile rains, Japanese urushi is of the highest quality, and the outstanding techniques that were developed over the years to produce artistic masterpieces, have been passed down to the present day. Gold or silver lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlays possess a refined allure, the liquid-like surface containing both light and shadow, beguiles the viewer. Negoro lacquer, in which a black base appears through the vermillion coating, possesses an air of wildness combined with a rich intellect, its warmth and elegance improving with use.

Artists exhibiting:

Jihei Murase
Tohru Matsuzaki
Shinya Yamamura
Shouchiku Tanabe (bamboo - in collaboration with Takashi Wakamiya)

Jihei Murase ( b. 1957 )
Jihei Murase III is a third-generation woodworker and lacquer craftsman. He performs out every stage of the production himself, from turning the wooden base to applying the urushi lacquer. He has inherited his grandfather's close association with the tea ceremony, carrying out research into tea-ceremony utensils. With the superb forms he creates through his skill on the lathe, combined with his outstanding lacquering technique, he aims to produce a unique Negoro-style work for the twenty-first century.

Tohru Matsuzaki ( b.1944 )
He has created a unique artistic world, reminiscent of both Negoro and Korea's Joseon Dynasty styles. In form, his work embodies the essence of the MINGEI ('folk craft') movement.

Yamamura Shinya ( b. 1960 )
Utilizes all the decorative lacquering techniques, such as gold/silver lacquer, mother-of-pearl and eggshell inlay, etc., fusing them with contemporary designs.

Shouchiku Tanabe ( b. 1973 )
Born the son of the great bamboo craftsman, Chikuunsai Tanabe III. His sculptural works in bamboo weaving are completely new. He collaborates with Takashi Wakanomiya to apply gold lacquer to bamboo, which is said to be a difficult skill to master.

We will be also presenting a collection of rare and quite splendid lacquer pieces created by craftspeople and artisans of Japan.

Shoko Aono
Ippodo New York
12 E. 86th street # 507, New York, NY 10028
T. 212 967 4899

March 14 to 30, 7 days a week by appointment only.