The young artist fell in love with the art form in high school and plans to continue the work for the rest of his life.
Yasuhiro Asai lives in Kyoto, Japan, where he enjoys socializing, eating the local cuisine, and poring over the details of each work of art he creates. Yasuhiro is wholly devoted to perfecting his work in the ancient craft of lacquerware. In an email interview, he explained what it takes to make each glittering piece of art and why beauty is so important, not just to him but to all people for all time.
What inspired you to start making this type of art?
As I disliked school, I hardly ever went to elementary or junior high school. When I entered high school, there was an arts and crafts course and that’s where I laid my eyes on lacquer art for the first time. The excitement and passion I felt at that time is something I can’t forget even till this day. Since that moment I have continued creating lacquer art every day of my life without taking a break.
What materials do you use in your art?
I need three important materials for my lacquer work:
Lacquer is a sap collected from trees that exist only in Asia. Japanese people have been using lacquer for approximately 10,000 years.
The most attractive material used in the craft for lacquer art is gold. The gold color emerging from the blackness of lacquer makes you experience eternity.
I want to express my work using shells. The brilliance of natural shells is so magnificent that it adds the color of nature into the work.
What’s the most rewarding part of your art form?
It takes about half a year to two years to make one piece of work; however, I am proud of making lacquer works that can be found only in Japan. It would be truly amazing if my art could exist for a thousand years and enrich the hearts of people.
What’s the greatest challenge of lacquer art?
It takes an enormous amount of time and money to produce a single piece of lacquer art. Therefore, the industry as a whole suffers from the shortage of successors. In order to make my art, I need a craft worker who can assemble the necessary tools and a supplier of materials. I would like to continue to present top-of-the-line art to the world and to create a future that attracts even more attention to the people in this industry.
Outside of art, what are your greatest inspirations?
I find my greatest inspirations from the significance of natural scenery or from personal growth by talking to people. As of now, I am living and working in Kyoto, and eating the delicious local Japanese cuisine here brings forth a lot of inspiration.
What’s one truth you’ve learned as an artist?
That art is the history of humanity itself, meaning that human beings always wanted beauty in their lives. Justice and evil change depending on their position, but the heart that loves beauty is given to all of us and that is a true treasure of mankind. A beautiful sunset, the radiance of waves—these things have deeply moved people in the past and will continue to impress people in the future.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
I want to familiarize as many people as possible with lacquer. Moreover, I want people to see my art. If there is any opportunity to exhibit my work in your country, please reach out to me. Together with my art, I am excited to meet the world.