Text by Akemi Okumura Roy
was celebrated by the presence of the masters of Japan Important Intangible Cultural Properties, to whom the exhibition was dedicated. The Japanese government designated Jun Isezaki, Kunihiko Moriguchi, Kazumi Murose and Mr. Noboru Fujinuma for their special artistic skills and techniques, having achieved a superior level of mastery in particular crafts of the Japanese heritage.
Jun Isezaki (born in 1936 – designated in 2004) is a master in Bizen pottery, characterised by the firing technique and absence of glaze. He learned the craft from his late father, continuing a family tradition. Bizen is Japan’s oldest pottery making technique, introduced in the medieval period. Stemming from tradition, Isezaki’s craft opened up new horizons for Bizen, which he interprets in a very modern idiom.
Kunihiko Moriguchi (born in 1941 – designated in 2007) is a Yuzen textile artist. The Yuzen dyeing technique is perhaps the most representative of Japan, dating back to the 17th century. His father, Kako Moriguchi, was also Living National Treasure in the same craft. The making of one Kimono takes 7 to 10 years. Moriguchi represents creativity based on tradition: expanding and developing geometric designs, seeking the perfect pattern.
Common threads connect the four living National Treasures. Firstly, the strong relation to nature that underlies their creative process.
Tradition is not a lore. We do not simply hand down a technique; what counts is the power of creativity that transforms tradition. Our works, new today, will become a tradition for the next generation. The chain becomes the tradition.
Kazumi Murose (born in 1950 - designated in 2008) is a Makie Urushi lacquer artist, a craft that he learned from his father, himself an Urushi artist. Murose is dedicated to restoration work during the day and to his personal creations in the evening. He established the Mejiro Institute of Urushi Conservation, to preserve and transmit this artistic craft to the next generations. Murose's style is characterised by the artful representation of the movement of wind and water.
Noboru Fujinuma (born in 1945 - designated in 2012) is a Bamboo artist. He started his career as a photographer. After a trip to Paris, he changed direction and chose to study the art of Bamboo. After serving an apprenticeship with Keizo Yagisawa, Fujinuma breathed fresh air in the bamboo craft industry, with his innovative style and his modern, dynamic approach.
Common threads connect the four living National Treasures. Firstly, the strong relation to nature that underlies their creative process. Furthermore, they are all involved in transmitting this important heritage to the generation of the future: “Tradition is not a lore. We do not simply hand down a technique; what counts is the power of creativity that transforms tradition. Our works, new today, will become a tradition for the next generation. The chain becomes the tradition.” The preservation of natural materials, growing scarcer, is also an important issue for the four masters.
Isezaki, Moriguchi, Murose and Fujinuma belong to Nihon-Kogeikai (The Japan Crafts Association) whose purpose is to make known to the world the traditional techniques of Japanese “KOGEI” (Craft) through their magnificent work, that conveys their message and possesses the vital essence that they would like to pass on to the future generations.
photo by Colin Roy
Laura Inghirami, journalist and advisor specialized in the jewelry sector, and Founder of Donna Jewel, interviewed, for the Cologni Foundation, the Master artisans who have been awarded as “MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts”, in the category: Jewelry - Silversmithing – Goldsmithing.