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Born in Kyoto in 1962, Hiroto Rakusho originally studied under his father, Jisaku Nishiyama, winner of the City of Kyoto Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Traditional Handicrafts. In 1997, Rakusho himself was certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as a Master of Traditional Handicrafts. Working to broaden the appeal of metal leaf design as an art form, he has collaborated with artists of various genres both in Japan and abroad. A prolific artist, since 2005, he has held three solo shows, two in Kyoto museums and one in New York. Rakusho uses his unique expertise, working with the Digital Archive Project, to preserve ancient precious cultural artifacts stored in Kyoto’s museums, shrines and temples. These skills have taken him to museums overseas and have led to famous Japanese artworks being returned home to Kyoto for public viewing.
A prolific artist, the works of Hiroto Rakusho have various contrasts; yin and yang, stillness and movement, a world of light and darkness, sometimes hazy, sometimes crisp and clear. You could say his works have color, or you argue just the opposite. The way he plays with the light source of his color. He wields the faint, flickering light, amplifies it, and in the process draws the universe into his works. That is his artwork.
“Having been born in Nishijin, Kyoto, I believe I was fated to take up this line of work. I was born into a world of gold and silver, Japanese washi paper and Indian ink, a world where polished crafts and beauty were taken to the absolute limit. I was surrounded by all of these. I tried every so often to leave it all behind, but every time the “Nishijin” in me grew and expanded. Given my location in Nishijin, where the formal beauty of Ogata Korin has for so long held sway, it was a fateful moment for me when I reproduced “Wind and Thunder Gods” (Fujin Raijin) by Towaraya Sotatsu, the founder the Rimpa style.”