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A Deeper Dark

Part One: An Exhibition of Lacquered Wood Tableware

October 18-27, 2019

Nalata Nalata is pleased to present our second exhibition of works by Ryuji MitaniA Deeper Dark. Renowned for wooden pieces with a distinctly tactile surface texture and painterly application of white and black lacquer, Mitani spent much of his life creating wooden tableware and writing about his craft. As the leader of the Japanese contemporary craft movement Seikatsu Kogei, his practice maintains a propensity towards everyday functionality as the works evolved over several decades.

“…things made by human hands have a spirit that a machine could never produce, because human hands connect to the mind.” Ryuji Mitani

A Deeper Dark is the first installment of a two-part exhibition that will highlight the distinctive qualities of “darkness” and “lightness” in the artisan’s practice and provide a profound understanding of each direction. We will explore how the contrasts of dark and light in black and white are integrated into our daily life, and the versatility of these opposing colors in tableware.

By focusing on darkness in this first exhibit, we look to the way black signifies strength and depth in Mitani’s wooden tableware that adds impact to a dish and awakens our senses to the potential of specific ingredients highlighted on its surface. This exhibit will also showcase how darkness translates in the density, textures and finishes of Mitani’s pieces as demonstrated in the various carving and lacquer techniques of his practice. The artisan classifies his lacquered works into the main categories of Noir, Usuzumi and Hakuboku. Noir is a thick, solid black technique that allows viewers to appreciate the dark urushi hidden in the shadows of a piece as the deep faceted textures reflect light. Usuzumi features faint inky white touches against a smooth dark background – a subtle suggestion of smoke and spirits. Lastly, Hakuboku showcases solid black urushi on the exterior of a piece, with solid white accents on the interior.

“Objects have the power to change the atmosphere around them. They have the power to put people’s mind as ease and reduce them to silence.” Ryuji Mitani

We will also be releasing the Noir Ice Cream Cup, a close relative to our original collaboration, the White Ice Cream Cup from a couple years ago as a collaborative work with Ryuji Mitani. It was inspired by the concept of the exhibition. The black lacquered version offers a beautiful contrast to the creamy tones of ice cream.

Ryuji Mitani works in a variety of dark woods including Jindainire (神代楡), a rare wood originating from buried trees affected by ash that is then coveted in Japan for its symbolic reference about transformation. The wood develops character deep underground from pure darkness and emerges into something beautiful and revered. In these unique pieces, often the interpretation outside of the literal is the most fascinating in its philosophical sense.

Join us as we embark on a two-year long, two-part exhibition exploring the full range of the artisan’s practice, as well as his substantial contributions in the field of contemporary woodcraft. We hope to share the fascinating amount of insights into his approach of marrying deep thought and consideration with the warmth of objects made by hand that make him as multi-faceted as his works.

We will be joined on opening night by Ryuji Mitani. Refreshments will be provided by Kashiya Kokonotsu.

View a recap of the event here.

Shop the Exhibition

Hakuboku Coffee Cup (OUT OF STOCK)
Hakuboku Coffee Cup (OUT OF STOCK)

Hakuboku Coffee Cup (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Hakuboku Coffee Cup. Wood you like a cup of coffee?  

$235
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Usuzumi Square Plate (OUT OF STOCK)
Usuzumi Square Plate (OUT OF STOCK)

Usuzumi Square Plate (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Usuzumi Square Plate. What looks like smoke are real brush strokes.  

$295
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Noir Long Rectangle Vat (OUT OF STOCK)
Noir Long Rectangle Vat (OUT OF STOCK)

Noir Long Rectangle Vat (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Noir Long Rectangle Vat. Vat-ever you’ve got, I’m more than able to hold.  

$595
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Noir Centerpiece Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)
Noir Centerpiece Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)

Noir Centerpiece Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Noir Centerpiece Bowl. With the depth that I have, I can hold the world for you.  

$2,550
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Noir Large Shallow Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)
Noir Large Shallow Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)

Noir Large Shallow Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Noir Large Shallow Bowl. Solid and dependable I will keep your items safe from being lost in a black hole.  

$970
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Usuzumi Rimmed Serving Tray (OUT OF STOCK)
Usuzumi Rimmed Serving Tray (OUT OF STOCK)

Usuzumi Rimmed Serving Tray (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Usuzumi Rimmed Serving Tray. Sharing means caring so pass the tray.  

$680
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Ice Cream Cup - Noir Urushi (OUT OF STOCK)
Ice Cream Cup - Noir Urushi (OUT OF STOCK)

Ice Cream Cup - Noir Urushi (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani for Nalata Nalata

I am a Noir Urushi Ice Cream Cup. Some might say I'm rather mysterious - dark as the night and cool like ice, but took a closer look, I've got the warmth of wood at my core.  

$295
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Wood and Enamel Salt Cellar (OUT OF STOCK)
Wood and Enamel Salt Cellar (OUT OF STOCK)

Wood and Enamel Salt Cellar (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani for Ryuji Mitani x Masaki Kanamori

I am a Wood and Enamel Salt Cellar. When great minds and great materials meld, the result is something as beautiful as me!  

$460
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Noir Rimmed Plate (OUT OF STOCK)
Noir Rimmed Plate (OUT OF STOCK)

Noir Rimmed Plate (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Noir Rimmed Plate. Looks can be deceiving - when you look at these walls, I’m not as shallow as you think.  

$395
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Hakuboku Small Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)
Hakuboku Small Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)

Hakuboku Small Bowl (OUT OF STOCK)

Ryuji Mitani

I am a Hakuboku Small Bowl. You'll have to eat it all for a nice surprise. At the bottom of my bowl is where it lies.  

$170
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RM-125 : Noir Ice Cream Cup
RM-125 : Noir Ice Cream Cup

RM-125 : Noir Ice Cream Cup

I am a Noir Ice Cream Cup  

$250
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