Akabori Ikuhiko

Stainless steel and titanium, spaceships and New York skyscrapers may seem strange bedfellows with the traditional material of urushi (Japanese lacquer), but in the creative work of master lacquer artist Akabori Ikuhiko, they come together in large panels and three dimensional objects exemplifying the infinite possibilities of lacquer art.

At 75, Akabori is a master, still ‘making’ but not ‘in the making’…originality, mastery and ongoing creativity come with long practice, life experience and wisdom, undoubtedly part of the reason why Japanese culture does not recognize mastery in mid-life.

Time and space have been a long-standing theme in Akabori’s work. Master of traditional techniques of makie, hyomon (sheet metal on lacquer) and Shibayama inlay, Akabori creates three- dimensional pictures on flat panels of lacquer, and a variety of objects using the plasticity of lacquer and the complementary lustre of metal.

In objects, Akabori remains faithful to the tradition of the functional vessel in Japanese culture, but in a flower vessel cuts away the framework of the lacquer to reveal the internal liner. In the New York series the vessels take on the architectural form of Manhattan’s skyline.

Akabori’s career is a distinguished one full of prizes and awards in Japan’s top competitive exhibitions and crowned with an Imperial Award in 2000. In addition to his artistic career, he has made a huge contribution to the arts in his prolific career as a judge, council member on a variety of arts’ institutions and a teacher.

Challenging conceptions of what can be done with lacquer art, his work is a constant reminder of the value of age and experience in creativity and originality.

1936    Born Shizuoka City.
1960    Graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts majoring in lacquer application.
Employed by Toei Co Ltd in design and fine art related work.
1966    Moved to Yokohama. Head of Industrial Design Centre for SME’s in the Ecomonic Bureau
1967   Commenced lacquer art
1968    First selected for the prestigious Japan Contemporary Art and Craft Exhibition and also for Nitten (Japan Fine Art Exhibition)
1971    Exhibited in exhibition of Japanese Contemporary Fine Art in Canada and Northern Europe
1972    Special selection and prize at Nitten and in 1982, Members Award in 1993. Became President of the Kanagawa Art Exhibition Executive Committee and also 1977,1995
1973    Exhibition and Tour to Turkey of Japanese Contemporary Fine Arts
Received Mukansa status at Nitten and thereafter til 1983
Elected as Judge for Kanagawa Art Exhibition thereafter 1980,’84,’87,’92,’97
1977    Judge of Japan Contemporary Art and Craft Exhibition, and thereafter until 1994
1979   Study tour of 6 European countries under the sponsorship of Yokohama City government
1981   Tokyo Governor’s Prize at the 20th Annual Japan Contemporary Art and Craft Exhibition
1985   Elected as Judge for Nitten, also 1992 and 1995
1987   Time and Space Solo Show Matsuya Ginza and again in 1989 and 1992
1990   Received art stipend from  the State of Massachusetts
Solo show Kaji Aso Studio, Boston
1993   MITI Minister of SME Prize
1994   Officially recognized by Yokohama City for distinguished service
1995 -1998 Judge and Executive Committee Member on a number of art panels and exhibition bodies  all over Japan
1996    Minister of Education prize at the Japan Contemporary Art and Craft Exhibition
1998  Imperial Order Medal of the Dark Blue Ribbon
1999   Urushi The World of Time and Space Solo Exhibition Yokohama Public Gallery
2000  Yokohama City Culture Medal (Arts)
2007 ‘New York and Myanmar’ Solo Exhibition Mitsukoshi Ginza
2010 Japanese Cool Group Show Lesley Kehoe Galleries Melbourne Australia

Akabori Ikuhiko
Lesley Kehoe