Maison de Urushi is a beautiful artwork that needs time and peace to be appreciated. In 2013, I was lucky to have both but in 2016 my experience was soured by a lack of peace. The artwork is basically 2 main rooms along with a gift shop, cafe, and studio. The main artwork is located in 2 rooms on the right side of the building. As you walk into the rooms you are hit by the stark contrast between them. You have a dark and a light room.
In 2016, I went straight into the light room. It is a room full of white lacquer. The entire room is white and the window outside is also great at helping brighten the room. For my second experience, I missed the main event in the white room. You have to open up the closet that is opposite the window. Inside there is a beautiful white and orange weave of lacquer strips and from my memory it was beautiful.
The dark room is a room with many layers of lacquer on the walls. The walls are filled with black lacquer and it is wonderful to see in person. It is very difficult to take photos of it and it is not very photogenic. I can’t explain how black it looks and photos don’t do it justice. They also cut through the lacquer into the other layers of lacquer that have various colours. They do this to give the appearance of stars as the bottom layer is white and subsequent layers get progressively darker with shades of blue and green. It is usually quite beautiful.
My experience was significantly soured by the fact that a group of about 10 tourists walked into the building at the same time. They literally filled the black room while I was in the white room. I had to go fast as I knew they would be in the white room within seconds. As I exited the white room and entered the black room, I could barely do anything. I had to push my way around a little as people were just lining up to get into the white room. I felt saddened that I couldn’t enjoy the artwork as much as I would have liked and relegated myself to getting out quickly and over to the other side of the complex.
The Maison de Urushi has a beautiful gift shop with simple gifts such as chopsticks and bowls. They are very beautiful and I really considered buying them. There is also a small cafe there but with the number of people going to the black room and the likelihood they would soon enter the cafe area, I decided it was time to go.
I really felt bad that I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked. It is a beautiful place that had lost the usual peace. I’m sure that it isn’t bad most of the time and I’m sure that 10-15 minutes later it would be great again. I really needed to be more patient but that’s just how things go sometimes during the Triennale.