Kouken Lacquer Art Studio

Continuous Development of Originality from the Inherited Tradition

Mr. Murata gets absorbed into his work once he starts creating. He told us that Lacquer work has no limit that he cannot help modifying. Lacquer works were cherished as daily-use commodities in the high society and is one of the most unique crafts that have established an intermediate category of art and practical use. He mastered the technique of using natural materials such as lacquer, bug wings, and eggshells which had been developed by his ancestors. He now pursuits his own way to express the beauty.

Kouken Murata, Chief Lacquer Artist, Kouken Lacquer Studio
1956 Born in Kyoto
1976 First selection at nitten exhibition (Awarded Special Selection prize in 2007 and 2009)
2000 Awarded Kyoto City Art Rookie of the Year
2008 Mural painting in the five-story pagoda painting of Nichiren Somotoyama Minobuyama Kuonji Temple
2011 Nitten Exhibition Prime Minister’s Award
2016 Kyoto Prefecture Cultural Prize Distinguished Service Award, Taiwan-Japan Art Exchange Exhibition in Taiwan
2019 Nitten Membership Award
In addition, he has won numerous awards for domestic and international solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and public exhibitions.
Member of the Japan Exhibition, Director of the Japan Engineering Association, 2019 President of the Sokokai / Director of the Kyoto Association of Arts and Crafts, Executive Committee member of the All Kansai Exhibition / Cultural Committee member of the Japan Shitsuke Association, Counselor in The Kyoto International Exchange Exhibition / Lecturer at Kyoto Seika University and member of the Rotary Club of Kyoto Higashiyama

Lacquerware and lacquer art

Lacquer decoration is said to have existed since the early Jomon period. The oldest lacquered ornaments have been found in 9,000-year-old ruins of Hokkaido. Since this is more than 2000 years old than the one excavated in the ruins of China, it is said that lacquer art was not brought in from overseas but may have developed independently in Japan.

In Kyoto, the daily use of lacquerware in the court became common from Heian period, and lacquer work under the direct control of the Imperial Court began. Like other crafts, it develops with the culture of the tea ceremony, and delicate and graceful expression techniques have been devised by the hands of lacquer artists from generation to generation.
Click here for lacquer art and makie >>

  • One of the techniques for expressing lacquer art, maki-e design sketches are mostly pencil-written. The image is inflated with the material used such as gold and silver and raden in mind. The colorful driver heads in the back are already coated with lacquer.

  • Raden is, in other words, an expression by shells. The material which the shining part of the shell of abalone, the night light shell, and the white butterfly shell is cut to 0.1 mm or less is put one by one before the coating film of the lacquer dries, and the pattern is drawn.

  • Lacquer is applied to fill the gap between the shells, and the surface is covered with lacquer.

  • The lacquer is rubbed with charcoal, the shells are sharpened, and the surface is trimmed flat. Depending on the season, the lacquer is laid at a constant humidity for two to three weeks until it dries, and the same process is repeated to fill the gap between the foundation and the decorative shell.