The Gallery Yakimono Paris Tokyo is hosting a show on an art that is still quite yet unknown in France. Kintsugi, which literally translates to golden joint, is an art that focuses on the repair of existing ceramics. The name references the fact that it involves a lacquer technique that features the actual use of gold dust.

Ceramics repaired in this manner receive a dusting over their actual lacquer coat. Mr. Franck Kaiho is a gentleman who has specialized in this technique, and he will be introducing the Art of Kintsugi on January 18. He will actually have a demonstration of it on that day at the Gallery Yakimono Paris Tokyo. Various displays will remain until January 25.

Red ceramic kintsugi piece with filled cracks

Kintsugi pieces really are quite remarkable. Despite the fact that they’re the result of repairs, they actually look designed to be that way.

Since this is an extremely rare art, it has not really been exhibited much in Europe. Even French specialists are not really familiar with the technique. For many people this might really be their only opportunity to ever get a chance to see someone work with this kind of material.

In 2009 there was a similar show at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery, which was rare in its own right. The techniques, however, have a fair more traditional background. The shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga returned a damaged tea bowl to China in the 15th century. It returned, having been held together with metallic staples, which proved to be very ugly. Japanese artisans almost immediately started working on a technique that would make a broken piece look as good as new if not better.

Tea bowl with gold kintsugi fillings

Even a simple tea bowl can become much more impressive after kintsugi repairs have been applied.

The golden lacquering system that joined pieces together worked so well that some collectors damaged pieces on purpose. Apparently they liked the look of the mends so much that they wanted their own prized collectibles to receive the treatment. In some ways this can even be considered part of a cultural theme.

Japanese collectors who appreciated the techniques used to make them praised quality Chinese and Korean pieces. Now people could suddenly have pieces that combined the best Chinese and Korean techniques with Japanese repairs. That created objects that shared qualities of all the cultures involved.

That might explain the continued popularity of this style of art. Most individuals who deal with broken ceramics result to glue to hold them together, but this has never really worked as well as anyone had liked. Perhaps in the future Kintsugi will flourish as a method of repairing ceramics instead. It would certainly be more attractive.