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Sabi and Sabi

Aesthetics of raggedness as demonstrated by rusty steel

京都開了一家新的漆器店,名為Gallery Yanase,店舖的建築物是中村好文設計的,門是用鐵製的,而且是生了鏽的鐵。乾淨利落的建築上,一大片生鏽的鐵,不知怎地就心生好奇了,特地跑去看。



撫著Gallery Yanase的鐵門時,能感到鐵鏽在門上織出了起伏不定的皮膚。工匠使盡辦法造出感官上如此柔和的鏽鐵門,展示著時間與氣候的變化在物件之上的鬼匠神功。鐵鏽的吸引力,除了是物件本身自有其魅力外,大概還因為它展示了萬物在無常變化之中,演化出來的無可掌握的美感。



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)