Panel Discussion

(日本語) 翻訳:

Comments on the Gold Prize Winners (1/2)

OHNISHI  ───── Next, we would like to move to the Gold Prize winner ‘Unfolding the Wings of a Shadow’ by Kanako OTANI.

TANAKA  ───── The Grand Prize winner symbolizes, in a way, that originally, Urushi is a local cultural resource which is closely related to nature. More broadly, Urushi is a cultural resource native to Asia. The relationship between human beings and nature is strongly reflected in Urushi.
In Japan Urushi has a long tradition, and Urushi ware has been created with improved techniques and various exhibitions have been held. I participated in the Final Assessment this year and I was impressed that, on the whole, many of the submitted works are conscious of nature. From the viewpoint of those who are involved in Urushi, as well as observing objectively, we are looking for the inherent nature of the Urushi tree. Urushi itself is the sap and its original feature. The Urushi artists have worked this original feature of Urushi into many beautiful items. When you visit the exhibition and look at each work, you will realize that many works are expressing this. Among them are works created with high-skill techniques.
Due to the COVID-19 Crisis, we have had to take a new look at the way human beings should be, and at the relationship with nature in our immediate circle. Coincidently, at this moment, this international exhibition will be held as the only international Urushi exhibition where the applicants can express themselves in new ways without being restricted by age and genre. This particular point is the most significant about the Ishikawa International Urushi Exhibition. In that sense, the submitted works reflect the concept of the exhibition well.
The prize winners are selected in a very democratic way. However, among the works which didn’t receive prizes, I found powerful works of equal merit.
Regarding the Preliminary Assessment, it is quite difficult to assess the works based only on their images. I’m afraid that because of this we may have rejected some excellent works.
These are all my introductory remarks and I will make comments on the individual artistic works. Regarding Urushi as a whole, it expresses an increasingly aesthetic sense and sensitivity of its inherent nature. Urushi reflects our thought. We Urushi artists are not conscious of our thought, but it must be present as the background to our work.
In such circumstances, this work received the jurors’ votes rather naturally. Among the expressive works, this is a relatively small sculptural piece, but the size might match a living space well. The artist is a young lady in her early 30s. She studied traditional art at university, and I feel that this work is created with a rather traditional expression. However, by looking closer at the work, I found her personal intention of expressing the movement and dance of a butterfly. This work is subtle but also strong.
She utilizes the Nuritate coating technique and I think she could have used many more techniques and decorations. At a glance, the work looks reserved, but a little wet. The jet-black luster of the Nuritate technique holds a subtle and complicated unevenness which harbors light in a way unique to Urushi. She expresses the beauty well and the work is highly evaluated for it.
One more point I’d like to make is that for me, the division of the categories into Art and Design is meaningless. The works with expression are mainly categorized as art. After all, the artists feel something related to nature and express themselves using Urushi. I personally feel, in that sense, the question of how to enhance the features of Urushi is the same for each individual.

OHNISHI  ───── Thank you, I’m sure there will be many questions later.


Unfolding the Wings of a Shadow
W52 × D36 × H28
大谷 佳那子
OTANI, Kanako (Japan)