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“We, the artisans, we feel increasingly marginalized “

“We, the artisans, we feel more and more marginalised “

Kunihiko Moriguchi, a master in the art of the yûzen, the painting on the kimono.

Francophile distinguished, as the embodiment of serenity to the japanese, Kunihiko Moriguchi is for ten years crowned with the title of ” living national treasure “, the highest distinction awarded to a craftsman of art. Was 76 years old, he has behind him a half-century of practice of the art of yûzen, the painting on the kimono, learned from father Kako, a legend of the discipline. The House of culture of Japan in Paris, in 2016, dedicated an exhibition to his works of art to wear. This time, Ryuichi Matsubara, the chief curator of the Museum of modern art, Kyoto, which was invited to participate in the exhibition ” Mastery of an art “. Virtuoso of the discipline centennial, always curious to new experiences, Kunihiko Moriguchi defends the sharing of cultural and artistic expression in the plural.

Be named “living national treasure,” he says on a more noble craftsmen of japanese art to the French artisans ?

In 1900, the japanese minister of culture and education is returned to the Paris universal exhibition, with the idea that the division of arts minor arts major to the west was the right solution to ensure the modernity. Then, after the second world war, the country had lost everything, then in 1950 was introduced as a law for the protection of the traditional crafts and theatrical : it was necessary to find a source of pride vis-à-vis foreign countries, even if our know-how remained classified as a ” minor art “. I am very proud to be a craftsman. For the past ten years, however, the decorative arts of the country are in a difficult situation, we, the artisans, we feel more and more marginal. This was not the case when I started fifty years ago : we were really at the heart of the company.

How do you see the future of your profession ?

I am a painter of kimono, but I also address myself to other activities. I just draw a small coffee cup for the Manufactory of Sèvres, which will be presented in Japan, where the manufacture is preparing an exhibition in November. I am also working on the design of a bag for Liberty, London, which should see the light of day this fall. Among the projects that are taking shape, there is also jewellery, may be of the architecture.

And what is the transmission ?

Read also : Jewelry : the beauty of the gesture

I have a disciple for twenty-two years who could even pass things on to the techniques of the trade, but the creativity can’t be learned. Two years ago, I gave a lecture at the école Boulle in front of 300 students to be very warm, and I am sure that this is not necessarily through a curriculum purely japanese that we may pass on something of the tradition. Finally, it may be a young artisan French or american, who could benefit from my teaching.

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