Beautifully broken. This is just one of the descriptors applied to the poetic art of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of golden joinery. Kintsugi, Vancouver artist Naoko Fukumaru writes, ‘is a five-hundred-year-old method of restoring damaged ceramics, seen as enhancing their beauty and value by celebrating their imperfection and impermanence. Kintsugi uses a special tree sap dusted with gold powder to highlight (rather than hide) restorations.’
Vancouver artist Naoko Fukumaru – who was born in Kyoto – has deep expertise in Kintsugi. As a conservator, her remarkable resume includes working on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Rodin’s Thinker, Murals by Diego Rivera, and The Tomb of Tutankhamen. ‘Kintsugi‘, Fukumaru continues, ‘helps us overcome emotional difficulties in our life through the process of accepting who we are. Kintsugi also teaches us importance of wellness “Kansha 感謝”, which is the act of expressing gratitude for the good and the bad’.
Since 2019, Fukumaru has been applying her Kintsugi skills to the cracked or broken works of major BC potters: Mick Henry, Heinz Laffin, Glenn Lewis, and Wayne Ngan. Her exhibition, entitled Slug Pottery Excavation Room, is named after Mick Henry’s former Studio at whose site Fukumaru found thousands of fragments for her current work.
Fukumaru’s work is on display at Richmond Art Gallery from June 26th to August 22nd in a larger show called Imperfect Offerings – ‘a look at the beauty of rebuilding and healing through ceramics’. Imperfect Offerings also includes the work of contemporary ceramicist Glenn Lewis, and curator, artist, and writer Jesse Birch.
Naoko Fukumaru. Dear Ron. 2021. Photo courtesy of the artist
Naoko Fukumaru. Bowels of the Earth-Water. 2020. Photo courtesy of the artist
Header Photo: Naoko Fukumaru. Ocean Scars. 2019. Photo Courtesy of the Artist.