Gallery Yanase is a newly opened lacquerware shop in Kyoto. Nestled in a building designed by Yoshifumi Nakamura, the shop features a steel door, or to be more precise, a rusty steel door. This massive piece of rusty steel on the facade of a sleek architecture somehow triggered my curiosity and led me to make a trip to the shop.
Rust is annoying not only because of the reddish stain it leaves on your hand, but also of its distinctive odor. Stain is, however, not at all unattractive. Placing a piece of metal outdoor and allow it to be altered by wind and rain, the surface will first turn reddish; as time goes by, as the red part comes off, the metal itself will become thinner and thinner. In the end, it will become so ragged that it can easily be cracked into fragments. When its original appearance becomes unrecognizable, all that’s left is the traces of different weather it has encountered in its life.
A rusty pot, a trolley that has a deteriorated bottom, worthless metal sheets that fell off from some old buildings… In the eyes of my friend who is a metalwork artisan, these so-called “waste” are gems. Although there are chemicals that can be applied to stimulate the formation of rust, the naturally formed rust has its own unique characteristics that cannot be obtained through human manipulation. He brings these rusty metal pieces home and carefully brushes away the excessive rust; the waste can then turn into useful material for him to create one-of-a-kind metalwork.
The steel door of Gallery Yanase has an irregular surface, one can sense how the artisan created a texture that is not only tender, but at the same time strong enough to depict how time and climate left a trace on physical objects. Rust on metal has a charming personality, it also narrates the story of how the ever-changing world creates unexpected beauty.
Now that I remember, “rust” is pronounced as “Sabi” as in “Wabi-Sabi” — is it a coincidence, or did Wabi-Sabi get its name because rust carries the abstract sense of beauty that Wabi-Sabi praises?
（Artwork captured by photo is created by Masaki Kanamori）