Setsugekka (雪月花), a poetic name for the natural beauty of the seasons in Japan: the snow of winter, the moon of autumn and the flowers of spring. And such is the name chosen for this project revolving around two objectives: to highlight the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship through a minimalist aesthetic and to respond to Fueki Ryûkô’s (不易流行) philosophy, which could be summarized as « Continuity and Change ».
Minimalism or « Less is more » is what I call a return to the essential. This concept is deeply rooted in the Japanese culture marked by Zen Buddhism. In order to understand it, we have to leave our Western eyes and try to perceive its meaning through the eyes of the Japanese culture. Without going into detail because that is not the point, there are seven aesthetic principles in Zen philosophy including Kanso (簡素), simplicity. The latter makes sense in this initiative where each creation is free of any superfluous elements. By the same token, our daily life itself becomes simpler.
In addition, I think a second concept is perfectly illustrated by this project, that of Yûgen (幽玄), mysterious depth and consisting of feeling the hidden beauty. A beautiful example is no more and no less than the name « Setsugekka ». Everyone can imagine the beauty of cherry trees in spring. But broaden your horizons… Seasons come and go, landscapes change, shaped by the work of nature and man. These cherry trees that you imagine have a past, a present and a future. To feel it is, in my opinion, the perception of this hidden beauty. It is the same for these objects. The raw material has been worked, shaped to give it the desired form. Over time, it will also evolve, the beauty of use.
Fueki Ryûkô’s philosophy may seem complex but an example is better than a long speech. Handicrafts are, in my opinion, an important part of Japanese culture and as such, have an immutable essence. However, on several occasions, I have noticed that traditional craftsmanship sometimes struggles to find its place in our modern society. Thus, I think that the main challenge is to integrate changes, evolutions without changing the original form.
Therefore, this project aims to present the work of artists, craftsmen and companies immersed in the very heart of these reflections. You will find creations touching different materials, intended for different uses but all marked by the same desire to bring an aesthetic reduced to its purest essence and this will to integrate them in our daily life and by this way, to enrich it. I would go even further… It is not only about concepts embodied in the work of these men and women but also the transmission of values strongly rooted in Japanese culture.
This is particularly the case for the clothing brand IITO. Specialized in the manufacture of cotton clothes for nearly 70 years in the Kumamoto region, the clothes it offers are marked by a simplicity in the form but a technical research in order to bring softness, comfort, durability to its creations. You will find more information related to this brand in the article dedicated to it 😉
This article is coming to an end but before I leave you, I also wanted to highlight the work of another one of these people who is putting her talent and know-how at the service of this project: Yuki Onizuka, a specialist in Yokoburi (横振り) embroidery, a term meaning horizontal swing.
A strange name to say the least, but patience. Let’s go back in time and precisely to the Taishô era (1912-1926), period during which this process was born. It would find its origin in the city of Kiryû in the current prefecture of Gunma and was mainly used for the embroidery of Buddhist altar objects and kimono.
Today, this craftswoman creates modern jewelry using a 70-year-old mechanical sewing machine! But unlike a conventional machine, the needle of this one moves from left to right, creating a kind of swing from which the technique takes its name.
At this moment, imagine the piece of fabric delicately placed on the workbench, the back and forth movement of the needle giving substance to the artist’s creation. Even more, the sounds produced by this machine activated by movements on the pedal, the lever… The scene comes to life and, in your turn, you can perceive its hidden beauty.
But beyond its original form, this technique is sublimated by the know-how and inspirations of this artist. Thus, she does not only reproduce a process, she enriches it. The result is unique pieces in which nature reveals itself with a lot of grace and softness. Nature is revealed to us in its simplest but magnificent simplicity.
If you want to know more about Setsugekka, I invite you to visit their website: Setsugekka (setsugekka1911.jp)
You can also follow them on social networks via :
- Facebook : Setsugekka | Facebook
- Instagram : @setsugekka1911
This fabulous initiative was embodied in three Pop-up Exhibitions held in Paris, Antwerp and London from January 07 to 22. Via Setsugekka’s Facebook page, you can discover the work of other talented artists ! On WalloNihon’s page, don’t hesitate to consult the post dedicated to my visit of the one in Antwerp: discoveries, meetings were there !