Nakamura Hirotomo (b. 1976)
“I create works using the unique traditional Japanese materials of shakudo and shibuichi, gold, silver and copper alloys, and the traditional methods of zogan inlay. I aspire to create ‘contemporary’ works through the development and adaptation of the world renowned Japanese techniques that I have inherited.”
Shakudo and shibuichi form part of the unique palette of traditional Japanese metalwork. Alloys of copper and gold, and copper and silver, they are renowned for their use in the functional, and at the same time extraordinarily decorative and detailed, fittings of the Japanese sword. In the nineteenth century, metal artists turned their hands to large decorative objects for the European market, objects which first introduced the beauty and technical mastery of the Japanese artist to the West, and which are now significant parts of major museum collections and highly sought after by private collectors worldwide.
It is to this tradition that Nakamura refers in his artist statement. A student of Professor Kaneko Toru, and classmate of Oyama Yasuyuki and Kise Hiroshi, the aesthetic and technical quality of Nakamura’s fine inlay in coloured metals is astonishing in one so young. Senior artists in his field have expressed awe at its precision and detailing. Accepted in the prestigious juried Nihon Dento Kogeiten (Japan Traditional Arts and Crafts Exhibition which awards Living National Treasure status), in his second year after graduation, and subsequent years, Nakamura’s creativity and talent were also recognized in a number of other significant awards.
Using the traditional practice of incense burning as the vehicle for his work, Nakamura’s shapes and designs express the contemporary spirit of his times. His triangular shaped incense burner is a graduation piece, its free interpretation of shape and inspired decoration hint at the depths of talent this young man has to explore. For we in Australia, it has unmistakeable similarities to the Sydney Opera House and to elements of indigenous painting.
Nakamura is currently part of a team of artists working on the conservation of cultural properties. This invaluable experience is expected to contribute to a resurgence of creativity and perhaps new directions.