The Japanese Art of Kintsugi
Many of you know that I lived in Japan for nearly 8 years. It is where I studied Art and started my career as an artist. Now that I am living in Singapore, there are so many memories of Japan that I miss and get nostalgic about. It is an artistic heaven.
To live in Japan is a uniquely aesthetic experience. Japanese hospitality (Omotenashi) leaves one feeling like royalty. Other aspects of Japanese culture which influence all aspects of daily living include Wabi-Sabi, Mottainai and Mushin. Wabi refers to transient and stark beauty. Sabi refers to the beauty of natural patina and aging. Mottainai is an expression of regret at waste. Mushin is the need to accept change. There is also a belief that everything has a life; Whether it be a teacup or a stone by a waterfall, every object has a Kami (spirit).
In Japan life imitates art and art imitates life. The two concepts are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship. The Japanese art of Kintsugi is the perfect example of this.
Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi is the art of mending broken items. Using adhesive and gold or silver metal; a broken piece of ceramic/pottery is glued back together along its break lines. In other cultures, a chipped teapot or broken bowl would often be thrown out and a new one bought to take its place; thereby “saving” the function of the broken item, rather than the item itself.
Broken teacup to be repaired
Photo credit: www.bestlivingjapan.com
In Japan when a piece of pottery is broken, it is the item itself which is repaired. Not only does this preserve the function for which the piece was intended; but it also adds an element of beauty that was not seen before. A cup which serves as a vessel to transfer delicious tea; a bowl which serves hot, steamy Ramen; and/or a ceramic structure to display the delicate brushes an artist uses for painting are “reborn” into stronger, “wiser” and more beautiful forms of themselves.
Photo credit: www.bestlivingjapan.com
There is a purpose for all the background. Living in these “COVID times”, many artists have used time in isolation to focus on their art. I am no different.
I have quite a few paintings that I have put to the side that don’t “work” and I consider to be “damaged goods”. With the advent of the COV-19 pandemic, I have been looking for ways to inspire through my artwork. I wanted to adapt the art of Kintsugi with my paintings in light of what this pandemic has shown us regarding the human race and climate change. I cut up my old paintings on canvas, gathered up acrylic skins left over from previously poured paintings, used new acrylic skins and glued them onto the wood panel using acrylic medium. Cracks are filled with 23kt gold leaf and/or silver leaf – much like a kintsugi artist does with broken pieces of pottery. Bits of gold leaf to mimic the “Shards” of broken earth are applied. In a technical sense, it is a 2D visual of the Art of Kintsugi.
Personally, my hope is to offer a depiction of the Earth mended and inspiration for humans to see that it’s possible to enjoy an Earth more beautiful than before – if we take steps to heal it.
Kintsugi I, Acrylic & 23kt Gold Leaf on Wood Panel, 16 x20″
Kintsugi II, Acrylic, Canvas, 23kt Gold Leaf on Wood Panel, 16 x20″
“Kinstugi Earth I” was a finalist in the “3rd Annual Colors” online Art Exhibition at the Contemporary Art Room Gallery for the month of April
“Kintsugi Earth I, II & III” were all accepted as part of the “All Planet Earth” Contemporary Art Gallery International online Competition.
“Kintsugi II” has been accepted as part of the 29th Annual International Society of Experimental Artists Exhibition this coming August. The show was going to take place in Alberta, Canada, but due to the pandemic it will be an online show.
Please do check my website for updates and new artworks. In the time of COVID-19, the lock-down here in Singapore has allowed me ample time to work on new ideas, experiment with materials and self-critique along the way. As always, I love to hear your thoughts and welcome your feedback on any of my artworks. And of course, if you are interested in acquiring these or any of my artworks, please email me at Rajul@rshah-studio.com