The exhibition featured seventy pieces of vermilion and black Japanese lacquer by this contemporary artist/craftsman. Nagatoshi Onishi, who is Director of the Lacquer Art Seminar / Studio at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, also presides over the World Urushi Culture Council. He has devoted his life to creating aesthetic, useful forms, continuing the 4,000-year tradition of the art of lacquer.

Nagatoshi Onishi’s art is as organic as the natural resin with which he works. His fluid forms are created by molding layered cloth solidified by penetrating lacquer–a technique named kanshitsu that he has highly developed. It contrasts with traditional methods of applying lacquer over wood or bamboo forms, which are custom-made by a person other than theurushi artist. With the kanshitsu technique, the artist may work alone from beginning to end–the art is an expression of one being.

While wood-based lacquer expands and contracts with changing humidity and may crack,kanshitsu lacquer does not. Thus it is ideally suited to Nagatoshi Onishi who wants his art to be used in daily life throughout the world. He feels that the container in use is even more beautiful and fulfills its reason for being. His containers–tactile, hollow forms–appeal to the eye and hand and invite one to contemplate the space within.

Honored guests attending the Members’ Reception for the exhibition were Professor Onishi, Dr. Randall C. Phillips (Honorary Consul General of Japan in San Diego) and The Honorable Mitsuji Suzuka (Consul for Information and Culture, Consulate General of Japan, Los Angeles ). Professor Onishi presented an illustrated lecture the evening of the Members’ Reception.

A Mingei documentary exhibition publication accompanied the exhibition. “Urushi Art of Nagatoshi Onishi at Gansen,” a ninety-minute color film of Professor Onishi at work in his studio played throughout the exhibition in the Multi-media Education Center.

Support for the exhibition was provided by the Association for Support of the Arts; Gold Axis Co., Ltd.; Hasegawa Co., Ltd.; Kanrin Gallery; Shinwa Tourist Co., Ltd. and Bunei Matsumara. The exhibition was funded in part by the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program.


On View: Sep 18, 1999 - Jan 09, 2000

Curator: Martha Longenecker

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