The Extraordinary Kogei Art and Contemporary Design from Toyama, Japan

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Exhibition Dates: May 16 – 22, 2014

Opening Reception: Friday, May 16, 6-8pm
Location: Onishi Gallery, 521 W. 26th Street, New York City
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm

With the Support of: Consulate General of Japan in New York, Japan External Trade Organization, Council of Local Authorities for International Relations and The New York Toyama KenJinKaimy-japanese-discoveriesOnishi Gallery is proud to launch its latest project, My Japanese Discoveries, intended to share highlights of Japanese heritage and culture. The project’s inaugural show runs from May 16 to May 22, with a celebratory opening reception on Friday, May 16 from 6-8pm.

Japan has 47 prefectures, each one with its own cultural, artistic, and culinary traditions. Because visitors often travel to Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto rather than venture to more remote prefectures, this project valuably highlights the cultural histories and creative expressions of lesser-known locales.

With support from the Japanese government, Onishi Gallery will make possible exchanges between gallery patrons and artists from these distant prefectures. Gallery attendees will be able to learn about the prefectures’ artistic masterpieces, functional-use crafts, and culinary specialties through public programming that include social exchanges, as well as local food and drink tastings. Our goal is to blend Japanese traditions with American culture so that participants may bring home these products for assimilation into their daily lives.

Our first collaboration in this project is with Toyama Prefecture, for which we will bring leading artists, industrial products, and local sake to the heart of Chelsea. Toyama, located in the Hokuriku region on the Japan Sea Coast—the northwest area of the Honshu island—is characterized by a stunning, rugged landscape of steep mountains, lush, rolling plains and the pure Kurobe River, which cuts the deepest gorge in Japan. Sustained by both long-standing traditions and emerging innovations, Toyama Prefecture is an applicant for UNESCO World Heritage.

Toyama Prefecture has nurtured arts, crafts, and industrial traditions for over 400 years. It is most recognized for its handmade paper, metal work and lacquer products. One example is Gokayama washi, a handmade paper constructed out of kozo (mulberry) and tororo aoi (hollyhock) fibers. Gokayama washi paper has been used for over 1,200 years in Imperial villas across Japan and is now designated as a national traditional craft. Today, many Japanese artists use Gokayama washi paper in woodblock printing and painting to create a distinctly traditional presentation. Other examples of Toyama traditional crafts include unique metal ware that features traditional casting and carving techniques, and three-dimensional lacquer ware patterns handed down from masters through the generations and reinterpreted today through continued practice.

From this culturally rich prefecture, three artists bring their work to Onishi Gallery on May 16. Ozawa Komin, a metal artist from Takaoka City, holds the honor of being Toyama Prefecture’s sole “Living National Treasure of Japan.” Born in 1941 in an area known for its copperware, Ozawa is recognized today as master of the yakigata casting technique. He is also the inventor of a cast-wrapping technique called igurumi in which metal decoration is attached to the surface of the mold before molten metal is poured inside. Ozawa blends innovative technology with creative design to push the boundaries of traditional metal casting. Hannya Tamotsu, another celebrated metal master, was born in 1941 in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture. Hannya is a 16th generation metal worker who creates art in the fukiwake casting technique, in which three different metals are individually poured into a mold within 5 seconds of each other. Due to the different melting points of the three metals, they do not blend together when combined but form a unique pattern instead. Hannya is the only known artist to have ever made a three- metal cast piece. Shakunaga Yukio, a widely-admired ceramic artist, was born in 1954 in Tateyama Town, Toyama Prefecture, into a family that produced Etchu Seto ware. Shakunaga creates simple forms and exquisitely colored ceramic pieces that have attracted devoted collectors all over the world, including Apple Company’s Steve Jobs.

Highlights of this event include food tastings by Union Square Events and sake tastings courtesy of Toyama Prefecture. Also featured will be plates courtesy of Toyama’s metalware manufacturer Nousaku and sake cups by Toyama’s lacquerware manufacturer Amano.

This event is a must-attend for Japanese art and food lovers! For more information, please contact Nana Onishi at 212.695.8035 or nana@onishigallery.com.