flaw[less] / NISHINAKA Yukito

Nishinaka Yukito creates flawless glass vessels; he then breaks them, with no hesitation. Picking up the fragments of its broken remains, he places them in a kiln and gives the shards life by fusing them together as a new vessel.

For more than 400 years, the Japanese have utilized a method of repairing broken ceramics called yobitsugi. In this method, Craftsmen repair ceramic vessels with significant chips by filling the negative space with fragments of other broken ceramics. Inspired by yobitsugi, Nishinaka started developing his own version of the craft in glass since 2010.

The many colors of glass create whimsy by refracting and playing with the light, while the molten glass trickles between the cracks, adding depth and texture. Without Nishinaka’s touch, these vessels would simply be “flawless” and perhaps quite boring.

Nishinaka himself claims he is moved by concepts such as: rebirth, imperfection, and sustainability; however, I believe that he is most moved by the idea of destruction. Destruction has always empowered Nishinaka—his ability to fearlessly destroy his current comforts and delve into new adventures is the very making of both his work and self. I see a piece of his autobiography in each fragment he pieces together, and I interpret the cracks as the path he has walked in life thus far. I am looking forward to seeing what he destroys next.

—FUKAI Keiko

The broken glass: It simultaneously emanates ephemerality and beauty, along with a respective danger in its sharpness. This is what draws me to the subject.

My art process starts with an intact, glass vessel; I then proceed to break it into pieces. My work is born thru the rebuilding of its broken remains. Similar to *kintsugi, the reparation of glass objects via the fusing of its scattered pieces is called yobitsugi. This mindset of giving new life to an object once deemed unusable is rooted deeply within the culture of Japan, and within my work.

When I was a child, I felt a sense of displacement from where I grew up; and this feeling consumed me. So, in elementary school, I tried to run away from home—instead, I got lost, but a kind stranger helped me find my way back.

When I was a teenager, the confined boundaries and lack of community in high school didn’t make sense to me; and I often found myself skipping class to hang out with my friends. So, I swore that I would someday leave my hometown in the Wakayama prefecture.

When I was in college, I studied to be a pharmacist in Tokyo; and yet again, I found myself itching to escape. So, I decided to study abroad in China.

When I graduated from university, I happened to walk by a glass blowing studio; and I stood in awe, fascinated by the bright red of the molten glass, and skill of the craftsman. So, a few days later, I went back to the studio and asked for an apprenticeship.

And in this way, I kept destroying and then rebuilding my surroundings and identity—constantly trying to find my true self.

After my time at the glass blowing studio, I decided that I wanted to take a more fine-arts approach to the medium. In 1991, I moved to the United States where I studied at the California College of the Arts for three years. My time at CCA allowed me to profoundly reflect upon who I am as an individual, and how I identify as an artist. I dove deep into my heritage, learning what I could about Japanese history and culture.

As if it were fated to be: I found such a sincere connection between the thought process behind Japanese craftsmanship and the navigation of my life. It is within the aesthetic principles of concepts such as kintsugi and yobitsugi—in which nothing is deemed worthless to the point of disrepair—that I found self-reflection. Reading texts like: *In Praise of Shadows deepened my connection to the Japanese aesthetic and its way of appreciating beauty in imperfection.

My current body of work, “Yobitsugi Series,” embodies the spirit of my life's journey to find identity: no self too broken nor irreparable.

I find contentment in and a connection to this series; However, who knows when I will need yet another destruction and rebirth.

*Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by fusing its pieces together with a gold, silver, or platinum melted alloy. This practice was first implemented by Japanese tea masters some 400 years ago.

*In Praise of Shadows is an essay by Japanese author Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, in which traditional Japanese aesthetics (specifically in contrast to Western cultures) is investigated.