Iwasawa Oriental Arts is pleased to present a digital publication on Japanese lacquered arts centered on the tradition of 写 utsushi and an exhibition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the gallery. This project embodies the strong motivation to present the true nature of creativity within tradition, which is deeply embedded in Japanese culture. The digital publication will utilize the latest technology in digital media and serve as a vehicle to educate a wider audience on the importance and soul of utsushi.

This book is being offered as a free research resource to the public and is a way to express our gratitude to society for their support of Iwasawa Oriental Art over the last 30 years.

写 What is Utsushi?

An attribute of the Japanese tradition of inspiration, in which contemporary artists to emulate the forms, aesthetics, and spirit observed in the work of past artisans. Learn more at Wikipedia.

“In doing Utsushi of a classic piece, I feel it is the way to understand its essence. If one does not possess the level of skill that can surpass the original object, however, one cannot produce a proper work of Utsushi
— Maehata Gaho古典を写す事が、 すなわち奥義を究める道であると考えます。 本歌に勝る技量がなければ、 きちんとした写しはできません。 前端雅峯


Creativity Within Tradition
The Aesthetics of Japanese Lacquer

Makie is a unique Japanese technique in which designs are created using gold and silver powder over lacquer. It dates back to the Heian Era (8th to 12th century AD) and the technique is said to have been further refine in the Kamakura Era (12th to 14th century AD). Over the years, a variety of different techniques were born and many works of exquisite quality were meticulously crafted.

The subtle beauty of lacquer has defined the arts of Japan. For nearly a millennia, lacquer artisans have learned from their predecessors this unique art creating layer after layer of unique artistic development and originality. This unique tradition requires the artisans to artistically and philosophically contemplate on a known masterwork and to use their own interpretations to recreate the piece and use the techniques and designs learned onto new and original works.

The aesthetic potential and creative originality that stems out from the tradition of utsushi is the central theme for the collection arranged by Kumiko Iwasawa of Iwasawa Oriental Arts. At the same time a new endeavor is being done by producing the publication digitally by utilizing the best in digital technology to present the collection as close to the actual objects being presented.

Jonathan Barron created the music for our slideshow video