Among an increasing number of well trained and gifted young Japanese lacquer artists, Murata Yoshihiko’s work relies heavily on the external play of light that creates silhouettes which continue his forms and flow indistinguishably from the sculptural pieces themselves. This engaging illusion teases one’s perception of where the black lacquer ends and the shadow begins.
Like his slender anthropomorphic forms, his occasional use of the contrasting brilliance of raden (mother-of-pearl) reflects his early fascination with the exquisite hair ornaments once worn by Oiran, the high ranking goddesses of Japan’s traditional entertainment world. As a student in lacquer at the College of Art in Kanazawa, a city once famous for its entertainment district, he was exposed to images of these courtesans whose extravagant attire and richly ornamented hair styles had captured the imaginations of most artists of Ukiyoe, wood block prints of the Floating World.
In his subsequent effort to carve larger pieces from a single block of wood he was challenged to maintain the same beautiful flowing lines as in the smaller works. It was at this point that he realized that many pieces had taken on creature-like aspects. This resulted in what he describes as his Hair Ornament Creature Series.
After the form is carved and made smooth, he applies more than 20 coats of lacquer, each coat of which is polished, requiring several months to complete a single piece. It was his satisfactory mastery of lacquering that led him to develop his recent lyrical Silhouette Series whose lines twist and turn, swell and fade, like the sounds from a musical instrument.