Hirasawa Kimiyoshi (b. 1961)
Japanese sweets (wagashi) are served on a variety of beguilingly beautiful trays and dishes, carefully selected to enhance the visual appreciation of their shape and colour. Hirasawa Kimiyoshi’s family, starting with his grandfather, are producers of the delectable red bean paste (anko), that forms the basis for many of these sweets. One wonders if in Hirasawa’s early years, the aesthetic combination of sweet and dish influenced the elegant simplicity of his lacquer art.
Hirasawa is a master of form, form reduced to its most uncomplicated, enhanced by a perfectly polished monochromatic lacquer surface. Nothing interferes with the appreciation of line, curve, patina and shadow. His work is at once authoritative and humble. It encapsulates the best of what many term Japanese minimalism, the zenith of aesthetic practice.
Hirasawa hints at a reluctance to enter the world of lacquer art. He studied painting and design, and after a short time learning makie with his father, he determined to abandon lacquer practice. He concentrated on design and prepared drawings for commissioned work in his father’s studio. Makie is a decorative technique, beautiful, but one that often disguises form.
At 28, Hirasawa discovered a fascination with form, particularly that achieved by the technique of kanshitsu, lacquer with no wooden base. A technique used from the 8th century for Buddhist sculpture, the secret to form in kanshitsu is the model. Thus Hirasawa concentrated on creating models for lacquer works which his father completed.
The pursuit of purity of form may also be seen to reflect an influence from the world of tea. Enshu style chado master Desaka Michitomo, an old acquaintance of Hirasawa’s father, has been a mentor and teacher. Seeking an independent path, Hirasawa is gradually creating individual works, from initial form to finished lacquer work. Humble and hesitant in self-belief, Hirasawa’s dedication to perfect form and finish is a strong indication of emerging mastery.