Overview

At the home of baseless Cloisonné artist Junko Takao, there is a room created to exhibit her work. The lighting was designed to maximize the beauty of baseless Cloisonné and filled with the particular details demanded by the artist, it is a space that best communicates the characteristics of the work. Here, we were able to fully enjoy the various works of Junko Takao’s baseless Cloisonné that were like jewels of light.

The techniques of Cloisonné usually involve placing enamel on the base made of material like gold, silver and copper and shaped for example like the shape of the vase, and firing them in heat of about 800 degrees so that the molten enamel turns into a film of glass that coats the surface of the base metal. There are works of Cloisonné that are like small pendants. Yasuyuki NAMIKAWA is a famous Cloisonné of the Meiji period and his house and atelier still remains in Kyoto City and is open to the public as a museum. The techniques for Cloisonné are mainly divided in to two groups, wire Cloisonné and wireless Cloisonné With wire Cloisonné,
ribbon-like metal wires are used create patterns and the colored enamel is applied between the wires to prevent the enamel from mixing with other enamels. With wireless Cloisonné, this is not possible, so the colors mix and the borderline between colors is blurry.

There was a period when Takao also worked in regular Cloisonné, but after a certain period, she focused her techniques on baseless Cloisonné, and began to pursue the possibilities of beauty using this technique. With baseless Cloisonné, the base shaped in the form of the vase made of material such as copper and the enamel inside the vase are corroded using chemicals (nitric acid is used so toxic gasses are generated, making this process dangerous), so that only the Cloisonné on the surface remains. This allows light to pass through from the inside of the glass to the outside. It is like a world created by a small stained glass lamp on a desktop. In many of her work, she uses cool hues such as blues and light greens. The tranquil, submerged colors go well with the cool texture of the glass.

The vases supported by thin wires are delicate with a thickness of only about 2 mm and will break if handled roughly. This delicateness, this weakness creates a fragile, transient form of beauty. Kenzaburo OE once wrote an essay titled “Human beings as a fragile article,” and the baseless Cloisonné are similar to such fragile human hearts, and it is because of this that we feel love towards humans. Takao lights up such works of baseless Cloisonné and shows the breathtaking beauty of the colors that appear through the glass. All her works show this beauty of light and color.

Art Critic: Hideto FUSE