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Hard Bodies: Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture
On view through January 23, 2022
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Sarasota, Florida

Since Neolithic times, craftspeople across East Asia have used the sap of the lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum) to coat and bond together wood, bamboo, textiles, and ceramics to make articles for daily and ritual use. The natural polymer refined from the sap forms a durable, waterproof surface that protects and beautifies. Lacquerware was — and continues to be — prized for its luster, which artists learned to accentuate over the centuries with inlaid gold, silver, mother-of-pearl and other precious materials. However, lacquer is not an easy material to work with. Years of technical training are necessary to master the medium. Nonetheless, lacquer continues to attract young artists who are undeterred by these rigors and continue to expand its’ possibilities.

“Hard Bodies: Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture” presents over 30 works by 16 artists. “Hard Bodies” is the first — and to date, only — survey exhibition of contemporary Japanese lacquer sculpture in the United States. Dr. Paget, said “We are delighted to share this unique group of artworks with our community in Sarasota. Very few museums in the United States collect contemporary lacquer sculpture, so this is a wonderful and rare opportunity for visitors to learn about an exciting emerging field.”

[Image: Kurimoto Natsuki (Japanese, b.1961), The Dual Sun II, 2008. Lacquer and mother-of-pearl on automobile hood 29 1/2 × 49 1/2 × 2 1/4 inches (74.93 × 125.73 × 5.72 cm). Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture]