Kohei Ukai 鵜飼康平 was born in Aichi, Japan in 1993 and he earned his BFA and first MFA at the Kanazawa College of Art. From 2018 to 2021, he was trained in Kanazawa Utatsuyama Craft Studio in Japan, specialising in wood crafts and lacquerwork.
Ukai’s work has been featured in art fairs and solo exhibitions in Japan and China. His work has been selected for the Ishikawa International Urushi Exhibition in 2014 and 2017 and received The Award of URUSHI (Japan URUSHI association) in 2018. He was the finalist, LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2020.
Ukai seeks to celebrate the primitive vitality of his materials. His technique consists of wood carving to first obtain the desired shape and of multiple layers of lacquer, Urushi, to get to this unique finish that makes his work so special. Urushi is the tree sap produced when a tree is damaged or a branch is broken, an ancestral technique that continues to be used today for its unique properties.
“The shape is carved along the grain of the wood without deciding the finished shape. There are times when I feel the moment when the claim of the tree and the intention of the creator are balanced, and at that time, the natural flow seems to move. I also want to show the process of lacquer swallowing wood.” In his working process, Ukai pays particular attention to protecting trees by naturally and unintentionally interacting with nature; a critical relationship between the lacquer and his raw material.