Wooden Tableware for Daily Life
October 20-29, 2017
Nalata Nalata is pleased to present Blurring Boundaries, an exhibition of wooden tableware by Ryuji Mitani. This is the artisan’s first solo exhibition in the United States.
Much of the distinction between the applied and the design arts breaks down when looking at Ryuji Mitaniʼs collection. With the intention of creating pieces that seamlessly integrate into our everyday lives, he uses a combination of carving and lacquering to transform solid wood into functional items for the needs of modern day living.
Ryuji Mitaniʼs signature lies within his unique way of applying lacquer, otherwise known as urushi in Japanese. Multiple coats of black or white lacquer are applied, allowing them to fully dry overnight between each application. The resulting layers protect and seal without entirely covering the wood grain. His painter-like approach, his technique of under painting, over painting, and artful semi-transparent strokes gives each piece a unique personality.
“Because I placed priority on finding my identity as an artisan over following established Japanese ways, I discovered a new world of white urushi.” – Ryuji Mitani
The exhibition is organized in sections that focus on the artisan’s carved solid wood tableware items such as bowls, trays, plates and drinking vessels, to his works that incorporate lacquer in painterly black, white and hazy strokes. A rarely seen collection of small painted wood brooches has also been organized. They exemplify Ryuji Mitani’s earliest works as a younger wood artisan, before he went on to solidify his status as a pioneer of the Seikatsu Kougei movement of Japan.
In commemoration of our exhibition, we worked with Ryuji Mitani to create the White Urushi Ice Cream Cup that will be unveiled on opening night. This piece is the result of our collaborative efforts to create the perfect ice cream cup. Which is what we tried to accomplish by means of a round bowl that fits comfortably in the hand, signature white urushi lacquer and a circular footed stand. Though the best part is the surprise at the bottom of the cup – artful brushstrokes as beautiful as a painting revealed after eating your way to the end of the dessert!
“We prefer to be simple rather than special, to be genuine rather than pretentious. We believe in choosing form carefully to make our work meaningful, as if selecting one line from a rough sketch makes the line stronger. For us, being simple has power.” – Ryuji Mitani
The opening reception will be held on October 20th. Refreshments provided by Momofuku KO. Music provided by Paul Lewis.
Read a guest Journal entry written by Ryuji Mitani about the concept of Blurring Boundaries and preview the collection here.
Explore the artisan’s studio and home in Matsumoto here.
View a recap of the event here.