Shoko Taruma


25 – 30 Jun. 2022 / Art Fair / MECC Maastricht, The Netherlands

Wielding the sculptural lacquering technique of kanshitsu (dry lacquer), brought to Japan in the 7th century from Tang China, Taruma lacquers darkly enigmatic worlds that tear at the very fabric that separates the real from the realms of fantasy. Likewise, her debut work for TEFAF is entitled “falling water II”, and much like what its name belies, the artist masterfully creates an epic poem in lacquer that seems as if it is melting into existence.

Taruma excels at creating the semblance of lacquer as a liquid material that flows and ripples like a waterfall, yet at the same time, seemingly stop time itself and suspend the lacquer in mid-air as it cascades and flows off the natural stones that she has found off the riverbeds of Kyoto. The works are coated with multiple layers of black lacquer upon hemp cloth, thereby lacquering the cloth applied over carved styrofoam bodies, and are then polished meticulously to achieve the radiantly seductive mirror finish that is lacquer’s innately unique beauty. Ultimately, Taruma is a sculptor who chooses the material of lacquer as the best way to express the supple curves, lines, and luminosity that only lacquer can express. Yet simultaneously, Taruma’s lacquer forms limn not only nature but the curves of the human body, and her waterfalls have silhouettes that call to mind the long limbs of a female body. Perhaps it can be said that imbued within Taruma’s work are elements of mystery, danger, myth and eroticism that call to mind the literary style of the Taisho novelist Edogawa Ranpo and the celebration of the elegantly bizarre.