Understanding the materials and acquiring an in-depth knowledge of techniques are the core skills necessary for mastering any crafting process. Embracing the challenge of combining their own personal artistic research with the quest for these competences, the four Japanese artists featured in this exhibition have been all teaching at the Tokyo University of the Arts while pursuing their own practice.
The old Japanese artistic expressions deriving from China and Korea were later influenced by encounters with the West after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate; the cross-contamination of these two cultural energies have produced extraordinary results. Similarly, the UK has experienced the cohabitation of different cultures, and this coexistence had emboldened the innovative and experimentational processes which have formed an outstanding legacy in British crafts. While working to promote their traditional works, the artists of Decorative but Calm have realised that craftsmanship is an international language; crafts appeal to the personal sensibility of each viewer.
Some people may feel that “craftsmanship” and “decorative” imply an overpowering and extravagant use of techniques and embellishments. In this exhibition the pursuit of elaborate designs instead aims, in a true expression of Japanese aesthetics, to create a “decorative but calm” space for reflection that does not intend to overwhelm the viewer.
During the Artist Talk the artists will be joined in conversation by Dr Rupert Faulkner, Senior Curator of Japanese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum.
This exhibition was preceded by a previous project, “Material Symphysis”, held jointly by the University for the Creative Arts and the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2016.
Hiroshi Kaito (b. 1970) graduated from Tama Art University in Design and Glass in 1993. Following this, he had a short stint working at the Azumino Glass Studio before becoming an Assistant and a Lecturer at the Institute of Tokyo International Glass Art. Kaito established his own glass studio in 2009, and he was a lecturer at Tokyo University of the Arts until 2016. Kaito is part of “Project Iki”, a group that exhibits tea utensils and performs tea ceremonies. His work was included in the exhibition Material Symphysis (The Crafts Study & The Foyer Gallery, Farnham/ UK).
Risa Ohgi (b. 1982) undertook an MA in Crafts and Ceramics at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2008. Ohgi worked at the Tokyo University of the Arts as an Assistant and a Lecturer for nine years. Her work was exhibited for the first time in the UK in the collaborative exhibition with Ashley Howard at the Leach Pottery, St. Ives in 2014. In 2016, Ohgi organised the exhibition Material Symphysis, held at the Crafts Study Centre, Farnham.
Shinpei Matsuzaki (b. 1981) completed a master’s degree in Urushi Art (lacquerware) at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2007 and remains at the institution as a lecturer. Using traditional techniques such as makie and raden, Matsuzaki’s works on boxes and bowls draw inspiration from the beautiful colours of the natural world in Japan. His work has received four awards from the Japan Art Crafts Association.
Satoshi Mizushiro (b. 1982) is a metalsmith and Lecturer at Tokyo University of the Arts. Alongside the metalsmith decoration techniques learned at university, Mizushiro’s works display his personal design sensibility.
Dr Rupert Faulkner
Dr Rupert Faulkner is Senior Curator, Japan, in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Born in Yokohama and educated in Britain, he graduated from Cambridge University in 1977. He joined the V&A in 1984 and has been responsible for the V&A’s collections of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Japanese ceramics and contemporary Japanese crafts. He has also worked extensively on the V&A’s Japan-related events programmes, including the Japanese Folk Crafts section of the V&A’s International Arts and Crafts exhibition (2005).