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Genta Ishizuka wins 2019 Loewe Craft Prize for rethinking lacquer

Japanese artist awarded trophy at ceremony in Tokyo 

Installation view of Loewe Craft Prize 2019. Photo: Loewe

Japanese lacquer artist Genta Ishizuka has won the 2019 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, beating 2,500 entrants from more than 100 countries to scoop the prestigious international award.

In a ceremony today in Tokyo, the Kyoto-based craftsman – whose work was acquired for the Victoria & Albert Museum at the Crafts Council’s Collect art fair in 2017 – received a silver trophy and a cash prize of €50,000.

He works with the traditional urushi sap technique, which originated around the 7th and 8th centuries. His winning work, Surface Tactility #11 (2018), is a lustrous form that resembles a bulging bag of oranges, and incorporates fabric and styrene foam balls.

Genta Ishizuka. Photo: Loewe

‘Ishizuka’s work proves that craft can be open and shows the freedom of creation,’ said Jonathan Anderson, Loewe’s creative director. ‘His use of an ancient lacquer technique in a contemporary form breaks conventions and represents a new sculptural vision in craft.’

The jury – which included last year’s winning potter Jennifer Lee, architect Wang Shu, journalist Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, designers Naoto Fukasawa and Patricia Urquiola, and Deyan Sudjic, director of London’s Design Museum – also gave special mention to two other artists, who each received €5,000: British maker Harry Morgan and Japan’s Kazuhito Takadoi.

Harry Morgan, Untitled from Dichotomy Series, glass, concrete. Photo: Loewe

The former was recognised for his work Untitled from Dichotomy Series (2018), and itsunusual pairing of glass and concrete. ‘This radical work by Harry Morgan is a paradoxical confrontation of materials which don’t belong together. He brings a craft spirit to common materials,’ the jury said.

Meanwhile, the jury applauded Takadoi for the fact that he has grown the material for his 2018 work KADO (Angle) himself.

Kazuhito Takadoi, KADO (Angle), metal, hawthorn twigs, waxed linen twine. Photo: Loewe

Works by the winner and the 28 other shortlisted artists are on display in Heaven, an indoor stone garden of sculptural granite platforms in Tokyo, created by artist Isamu Noguchi in 1978. This year’s Craft Prize received more than double the number of entries compared with the previous year, with UK-based finalists including Akiko Hirai, Andrea Walsh and Annie Turner.


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