Oval lacquer tray by Akashi Bokkei
Japan, Showa period, probably 1950s or 1960s
An oval lacquer tray with slightly upturned edges, supported on two bar feet. The tray is decorated with a kind of simulated marble design, featuring larger grey and purple ‘stones’, enclosed by red and cream lines. The inward-turning rim is lacquered in purple. The back is lacquered a glossy black. The tray is contained within the original wooden tomobako, the top of which is inscribed Choshitsu, Ishi-no-zu, moriki (a tray in carved lacquer technique with a design of stones). The reverse of the tomobako has the inscription Shichisaien, Bokkei saku. Seals: Bokkei, Chomatsu, Bunshindo choset (made by Bokkei, Shichisaien studio, with seals Bokkei, Nagamatsu, crafted under the supervision of Bunshindo).
Akashi Bokkei (1911 – 1992) was a lacquer artist who was active in the Nitten and Modern Craft Exhibitions. He was born on 1 October 1911 in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, and his original birth name was Seiichi. He graduated from the design department of the Tokyo Fine Arts School (now Tokyo University of Fine Arts) in 1934. After working at the Wakayama Prefecture Lacquer Ware Experiment Station, he taught at the Takamatsu Craft School in 1942. After the war his work was selected for the government-sponsored 2nd Nitten exhibition in 1946. In the same year, he was awarded a special prize for his work “Record Cabinet Listening to the Night” at the first New Nitten exhibition. He became a judge at Nitten Exhibition Committee. After the war, he worked as an assistant professor at Kyoto City University of Arts and as a curator at Takamatsu City Museum of Art. His work demonstrates an innovative sense of design by combining geometric patterns with bold designs based on natural forms such as flowers and fish, and by making the most of the black and vermillion lacquer base colours. An exhibition “Akashi Bokkei” was held at the Takamatsu City Museum of Art in his hometown in 1992, giving a full-scale retrospective of his achievements.