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Fake, Copy and "Cover" in Craft / Kitayama Eita's Works - 4

Kitayama, a Japanese wood artist, draws on vintage French flatware that he has been collecting for years. What does that mean?

You could call it copying, but it is certainly not fake as it is obviously made out of different materials from the pewter of the originals - transforming them into something else, with an added aesthetic quality.

Before the modern times, copying great pieces of the past came naturally to artists, probably worldwide. Copying is still widely practised in Japanese art (typically for tea ceremony ware), and in a certain context it is recognized as an established approach. It even has a technical term “utsushi” (copying/transferring) and expands from poetry to architecture, almost every artistic genre in Japan.

Utsushi pieces can be viewed with more severe eyes because the original is set as a reference point. A perfect copy does not make a good utsushi. The question is, what was intended through copying; what was added or altered; and, most importantly, if it was done successfully. It requires artists to adopt a serious concept and work through a conversation with the past, while retaining great respect for the original. In that sense, utsushi looks more like a "cover" version than a copy, where the original is treated like a motif rather than an object to copy.

These days, pewter ware is not so popular even in its European homeland, except for limited demand for antiques. But thousands of miles away, I know many talented artists are "covering" them, in a contemporary context and in unexpected ways. Read more on other blog posts.