Artist Spotlight: Tohru Matsuzaki

Tohru Matsuzaki

The Resilience of Urushi Lacquer

Tohru Matsuzaki once said, “Mankind has known the value of wood and lacquer for over ten thousand years. I felt that I wanted to use this to make something in a present continuous form, something that could be used but also would be appreciated universally for its beauty.”



Without a doubt, Tohru Matsuzaki’s lacquerware is the epitome of eloquent beauty. Matsuzaki’s lacquer trays are grounded yet flowing, minimal yet elaborate, contained yet radiant. His bold brush strokes of urushi lacquer create an uneven yet artistically balanced surface.



The texture of the surface is unique – with pools, drips, and soft variations in the lacquer, the artist’s touch is that much more evident.

Urishi lacquer, an ancient material made from sap from the Asian lacquer tree of the same name, is filtered through many layers of special paper. The result is a translucent, honey-like lacquer that ranges from light to dark amber color.



This lacquer is applied through many layers with a brush and as it hardens, it absorbs moisture from the air. This makes the piece very durable and able to withstand erosion from water, acids, and alcohol.



Tohru Matsuzaki’s love of wood and lacquer stems from the possibility of creating artwork that is everlasting. Matsuzaki poetically says “wood is doomed to decay but by applying numerous coats of Urushi Lacquer, it is possible to create objects that will continue to be loved by their owners for 500 or even 1000 years.”

With Tohru Matsuzaki and urushi lacquer, we can appreciate and respect years of Japanese culture, tradition, and warmth. Urushi pieces are symbols of patience, resilience, and perseverance – qualities often associated with the Japanese themselves.