Using the most traditional of Japanese craft materials, lacquer, to create new forms of expression, IGAWA Takeshi, is one of the most watched young artists in his field.
There are many different types of lacquer finish. The best known and most common are the matte finish, known as Nuritate Shiage, in which the uppermost layer is left unpolished and Roiro Shiage which is a technique which creates a reflective, mirror like surface, which IGAWA, seeking the most striking and expressive surface, has chosen to employ in his work . He creates the form of his pieces using a mold created from styrofoam and hemp cloth, to which the many layers of lacquer are applied.
Once, looking on a piece of black lacquer, IGAWA felt himself almost drawn into the artwork, and was inspired to work with black lacquer himself. Though it is the most difficult color through which to express shadows and light, IGAWA believes that, through subtle unevenness and curved lines, he can express what it might seem most difficult to in this medium. His piece To the Night, for example, is created entirely using the same black lacquer, and yet, in each angle and part of the piece, the effects of light and shadow, and the appearance of the black lacquer itself is different. The mirror-like surfaces incorporate the piece’s surroundings to add another layer of expression. Overall the effect is of creating what appears to be a portal to another world, created through the tricks of light and shadow.
IGAWA's clean designs, lacking anything unnecessary, are characteristic of the simple elegance which lies at the root of much of Japanese aesthetics. Lacquer is applied then rubbed away over and over again. Beauty is created through repeated subtraction; the removal of unnecessary parts. In this, lacquer resembles pared down poetry of the Haiku or the stark beauty of ink drawings. And so IGAWA's artwork, while undoubtedly expressions of personal vision, nonetheless is deeply representative of the artistic tradition of his homeland.
After completing his undergraduate studies, IGAWA spent ten years at Kyoto City University of Arts. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in 2009, he moved to SAGA University to work as an instructor for the art department.