Starting on March 22 the Yakimono Gallery will be hosting several notable contemporary Urushi artists. Considering the constant mention of Kurimoto Natsuki that individual perhaps needs no introduction.

Of course, interesting people like Naoki Maeda are already connected with the organization in the popular imagination. Igawa Takeshi is another top individual working with he organization. When Igawa-sensei’s work comes to the Yakimono Gallery people will certainly turn their heads.

Urushi red lacquer piece

As this image from Keiko illustrates, Igawa-sensei’s urushi artistry has a unique flair.

While academic credentials are never something that art appreciators should rely solely on, Igawa-sensei’s are quite impressive. Having received a bachelor’s in fine arts and ultimately a masters in the same field, Igawa Takeshi continued working at the Kyoto City University of Arts until being granted a doctoral degree in 2008.

The artist then became an associate professor at Saga University, having had some teaching experience at the Kyoto City University of Art, Kyoto Nishiyama High School and Ritto High School.

This formal training might explain why Igawa’s urushi lacquer work follows a particular notable pattern. Original Igawa pieces have a flowing and almost nautical feel to them. Many of them are extremely notable for following this theme. While it makes them extremely aesthetically pleasing for obvious reasons, delving a little deeper will help better appreciate the art that one is seeing.

Classical Japanese design has always had a certain flair for minimalism, and this is clearly present in the abovementioned works. They are often fairly monochrome in coloration, and the shape almost makes them look as though they could be crafted out of a single piece of material.

That being said, classicalism isn’t the only thing at work here. Rather, there are some modern elements here. Take for instance a modern example of Japanese architecture or even industrial design. This same sort of minimalism and almost flowing nautical design is present once again.

Black lacquer urushi piece

At times it can be hard to recognize Igawa’s work as lacquer ware, since it breaks the mold so greatly.

Those who are interested in seeing especially unique pieces that still hold elements of traditional design definitely need to see this great exhibit. What might make it so interesting is the fact that urushi is such a traditional technique, but it is still very much appreciated by these contemporary artists.

Urushi has been used since the Jomon period around 6,000 BC. While it might be relatively unknown in modern France, this is a rare opportunity for people to be able to see pieces that are so new. French art students will especially like this opportunity, because the only pieces of genuine fine urushi art scene on an international scale with any regularity are archaeological artifacts.