ONKO CHISHIN: Online Exhibition Asia Week New York 2023
September 14 – October 22, 2023
Onishi Gallery is proud to present its Asia Week New York Autumn Exhibition “ONKO CHISHIN” featuring work by Murose Kazumi, Japan’s leading master of lacquer art, named a “Living National Treasure” in 2008.
The exhibition draws on a dictum laid down by Chinese philosopher Confucius more than 2,200 years ago: “If you cherish tradition and use it to explore new ideas, you can be considered a master.”
As a student of both Matsuda Gonroku—an earlier National Living Treasure—and Matsuda’s pupil Taguchi Yoshikuni, Murose is deeply versed in maki-e, a time-honored Japanese technique for creating designs by sprinkling powdered gold, silver, and other precious materials onto urushi, the refined sap of the lacquer tree, then allowing the urushi to set before applying further layers, each of them painstakingly polished. He also decorates with raden—a type of inlay common to lacquer art across East Asia—in a distinctively bold yet refined manner using the inner lining of abalone and other shells.
Murose’s practice is deeply rooted in tradition, yet he constantly explores new ways of expressing the beauty of both urushi and shell. Tsubaki (Camellia) and Kinka (Sparkle), works executed in 2005 and 2021, show him creating contemporary versions of much-loved older designs. Tsubaki recalls lacquer wares made in the styles of artists such as Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716), celebrated for abstracted evocations of the natural world. Kinka goes back much further in time to the era of the Shōsōin, an eighth-century Imperial treasure house that features early masterpieces of floral shell inlay in lacquer.
Now in his eighth decade, Murose has recently launched a new series entitled Chidō (Telluric Motion) that takes his practice to a new conceptual level, expressing in miniature the gigantic swirling movements of our planet as it makes its way through the cosmos. With this radical new departure, Murose shows himself to be a true master, fluent in traditional modes yet also a fearless explorer of new ideas that bridge past and present.
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