Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A poster announcing an exhibition called ‘Cuoto on Netsuke’ caught my eye at the Museum and Art Gallery in Hereford so I made a brief visit. Netsuke are small Japanese beads used to secure objects to a belt. They are highly decorative objects and very beautiful Cuoto turned out to be an artist who was showing large engravings influenced by traditional Japanese themes. Of more interest were the woodcuts of birds and flowers. Although they were described by the exhibition catalogue as realistic, to modern eyes accustomed to photographic images that seemed inappropriate. There charm springs from the limitations imposed on the artist by the medium he is using. Details of colour and texture have to be suggested rather than accurately recorded. For artistic rather than scientific purposes this is not a handicap and they can be enjoyed for their directness and honesty of purpose. These are qualities that distinguish the best hand made artifacts and which give them value.

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