The rule here is: Authenticity of Materials above all else. This rule unsettles and transform our way of seeing things, assigning each material a unique role that respects its original nature and identity. Nothing escapes this consistent respect, from hats and birch-bark ornaments to dyed carp-skin cloaks (made by Siberian nomads), from refined Korean Celadons to the subtlest lacquered items from China. Ceramics come in countless forms, including round tiles and paving bricks with floral designs, some worked with such finesse that they resemble lace. there is little furniture, replaced by an infinite range of mats and tatamis made from a variety of materials, primarily rice straw.
And then there is a love of nature so perfectly expressed-especially in Japan-through the arts of gardening and flower arrangements. Nature recurs in the decoration of objects and even, paradoxically, in the absence of ornamentation. Some pottery, devoid of decoration, is deliberately rough-even coarse-the better to evoke the natural feel of rock, stone or pebble.
Wood, Hemp, Stone, Leather, Metal, Earth, Bamboo, Rattan, Straw, Silk, Palm Leaves: None are crafted, produced or reproduced without this constant respect for the essence and potential or each material.
There is something deeply fascinating in the way Asia coaxes materials into a kind of immateriality or immanence. They seem pure, graceful, light, impalpable and yet retain such sensuality, such presence, such solidity. Everything here sustains the idea of paradox, sometimes even ambivalence. Matter and matirials shimmer. They never seem frozen and, whatever shape they are given, they generate a sense of potential transformation, of ongoing gestation.