“Admiring His Passion for Urushi”

Kazuto Niida
Urushi Craft Artist


Referred by Professor Masao Shimizu, an instructor at the Urushi Craft Department of the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, I met with Mr. Matsuoka. It was shortly before his departure, and I was asked to repair his artworks.


While working on repairs, Mr. Matsuoka used to come by me, and we would chat about a variety of things such as, “Urushi is great because it lasts for thousands of years,” and “I have been attracted to urushi for its durability as well as for its lustrous, wet-look color tones.” Urushi is said to be so named because of its beauty (the word rhymes with Urushi in Japanese), and its color tones distinguish it from oil painting. I think Mr. Matsuoka was taken with this beauty.


Mr. Matsuoka started his artistic career with oil painting, and he used Urushi paints as if he were using oil paints. Some of his artworks signify expressions made possible only with Urushi, and I think he became more conscious about Urushi artworks at the midpoint of his career. My encounter with Mr. Matsuoka lasted only for a short period of time, but he made a lasting impression on me. He had a deep conviction regarding Urushi. I, as an Urushi craft artist myself, am overwhelmed by the depth of his tenacity as an artist.


Currently I reside in Bretagne, France, where I continue my artistic career as an Urushi craft artist. The palette platform for mixing Urushi that I’ve been using is the one Mr. Matsuoka used to use, so I inherited it from him. I am truly grateful to have had an opportunity to meet Mr. Matsuoka. It is also my great pleasure to be able to view his artworks through his website. I feel that urushi is yet to be understood in the rest of the world. Though it is hard to truly appreciate details such as the color tones of Urushi unless you see his artworks in person, I still feel this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce Urushi artworks and Urushi-e through Mr. Matsuoka’s artworks.