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Revisiting Rimpa: Design, Function, and the Art of Nakmura Takuo

September 10, 2012

Asian Art

The whole concept of the compositions, planes and colours of the movement began in the early 17th century with the master artists Koetsu and Sotatsu, who felt unsympathetic to the flamboyance of the Momoyama taste, continued in the work of Ogata Korin (1658-1716) and later with those two mid-Edo artists influenced by him, Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828) and Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858).
The movement not only incorporated painting, but also calligraphy, lacquer and, of course, ceramics, much in the same way the 20th-century Art Deco Movement expanded. Rimpa/Rinpa began with inspiration from the ancient tradition of yamato-e and adventurously branched out from there, like Nakamura's works. Starting with a foundation of the overlapping two-dimensional planes of the yamato-e tradition, the movement utilized forms and lines of soft and straight or curved lines to form the actual composition, but used sometimes unexpected combinations of colours or materials to achieve the final effect.
Following this established tradition, Nakamura takes it one step farther by a method of sculpting he calls 'destroying the clay', which some allows the viewer to discover the process of how he arranged his functional forms. Many of his new works are multi-piece deconstructions of traditional forms, allowing for greater freedom though the various permutations of assembly and affecting the balance between interior and exterior spaces. Nakamura explains, "The true completion of any vessel is derived through the creative implementation on the part of the use'. This is an obvious statement of fact, but more incisively, he comments that, 'During the act of creation and flattening and manipulating the thin walls of my works, the clay expresses its own hidden form and plays a critical role in determining the final structure', sometimes insinuating the somewhat rustic colour patterns of 17th century Ko-Kutani porcelains and sometimes not.
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