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Simon Pilling: East Asian Art & Interiors

Tray by ISOI Masami (b.1926)
Japanese, late 20th century
40 x 36 x 3.5 cm.
Artist’s seal on base. With signed and sealed tomobako

Incised and colour-filled lacquer technique, kinma, over a woven bamboo base, rantai shikki.

Bamboo lies at the heart of this spectacular piece. Its design perfectly captures a hillside of bamboo swaying in a breeze, evoking the characteristic rustling of leaves. It is a scene alive with movement. Created over a subtly undulating carved background, a rich palette of greens and yellows delicately depicts the forest. However, the true bamboo is unseen – a core of woven bamboo strips, creating the gently rounded form of the tray itself.

The artist, Isoi Masami, received the title of Living National Treasure for this ‘incised and colour-filled’ lacquer technique, kinma. He continues to be a regular exhibitor at the annual exhibition of Japanese Traditional Art Crafts, the Nihon Dento Kogei-ten, where a similar piece, depicting Cherry Blossom by Moonlight, was exhibited in 2000. In 2007 his work was selected for inclusion in the British Museum exhibition Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan.

all text & images Simon Pilling: East Asian Art & Interiors

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