241. A Laquer-Maker’s Tray

Japan, circa 1900 
Size: 32 × 22 cm

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The magical surface of this tray is the result of decades of a master of lacquer working his art on it, so that the surface has built up, layer upon layer, with all the different colours he used, some submerged, some emerging, resulting in a configuration of whirling hues. It is dynamic, poetic, and a moving expression of the qualities that craftsmanship represents. It is not itself an object he was making, but it contains instead multi-shaded shadows of every piece he produced on it.