Thomsen Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Yoshio Okada

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Thomsen Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Yoshio Okada
Yoshio Okada (b. 1977), “Shining Moon, Hazy Clouds” Kanshitsu Box with Sprinkled Design of Celestial Phenomena, 2020. H 1½ x L 5¾ x W 4¼ in. (4 x 14.5 x 11 cm).

NEW YORK, NY.- In celebration of Asia Week New York 2021, Thomsen Gallery (9 East 63rd Street) opened the exhibition “Lacquer Works by Yoshio Okada,” on view until March 27.

Yoshio Okada is recognized worldwide for his brilliance in harnessing the traditional Japanese craft of lacquer to contemporary modes of visual expression. “Lacquer Works by Yoshio Okada” is centered around two of his most innovative series: “Celestial Phenomena” and “Jellyfish,” each of them comprising boxes rarely more than five inches in length.

The “Celestial Phenomena” series is devoted to depictions of heavenly bodies seen through fleeting clouds. Okada uses the ancient kanshitsu technique for some of the boxes, fashioning them from hemp cloth combined with lacquer sap. Their profiles match the sky’s curve, creating a setting for gold, silver, and shell decoration that lies flush with a highly polished black-lacquer background. These exquisite miniatures are sought after by collectors and museums worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago which acquired Okada’s Rising Sun, Red Clouds box in 2013.

Inspired by the idea of ocean creatures resembling multiple moons reflected on the surface of the night sea, Okada also created the “Jellyfish” series, conjuring up an immersive sense of depth by executing the decoration in two stages. The darker jellyfish with feathery, trailing tentacles are applied first, then covered with layers of reddish-brown lacquer, followed by lighter-colored fish.

With titles such as “Floating,” “Flickering,” “Fluttering,” or “Hovering,” the “Jellyfish” boxes mark a further step in Okada’s project to use meticulous, time-consuming processes to achieve the lightest and most evanescent of visual effects. The resulting works are compelling fusions of time-honored skills with contemporary sensibility.

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