Terumasa Ikeda's Mother-of-pearl Inlay

For a long period, Japanese decorative art based its designs on graceful images of the seasons, poetry, or songs.
However, my work uses a shared image of the vast quantity of information that exists in the present day and which cannot be expressed in traditional ways.
It is difficult to employ the techniques and aesthetics that have been passed down from the past to create an eternal beauty, but I believe that by reflecting the ‘now’ I am continuing the tradition.

The world is currently going through difficult times, but I hope that you will be able to come and see my work without taking any risks.
In closing, I would like to offer my gratitude to everybody who contributed to making this exhibition possible despite the current crisis.

Ikeda Terumasa
July 2021




A Light that Appears on the Borderline Between Fact and Fiction


A box, resembling an abstract sculpture, is covered with a jet-black coating that, reflects the world like a mirror, to create an illusional interface. The iridescent colors emitted by the fragments of mother-of-pearl bring the accumulation of minute digits or lines into sharp relief. It may be true to say that by binding an image, that is on the verge of floating up into the void, to a physical object, and establishing the existence of something that ‘does not exist, but does’ is the true allure of mother-of-pearl inlay.
Originating in China, lacquerware blossomed in Japan, and of all the techniques, mother-of-pearl inlay has the image of being traditional, classic, prestigious, artistic and refined. However, although nobody can deny that the materials and techniques employed in the works created by Ikeda Terumasa are grounded firmly in tradition, his designs are extremely contemporary, referencing popular computer games, anime, movies, etc., that originate in a youth culture that surpasses national borders—for example, the green light of digital codes that blinks on a jet-black screen, or the wiring of a conductor that resembles the lines of a circuit board.
The technologies that control light or electric signals and the SF visions that are inspired by them are things that cannot be physically touched by hand—in other words, they are ‘things that exist, but do not.’ These are bound to an extremely thin layer—truly the borderline between fact and fiction—as physical objects. The numerous discrepancies and contradictions that blend in the diffused reflections between opposite mirrors, probably serve to make Ikeda’s work far more attractive.

Hashimoto Mari
Deputy director
Eisei Bunko Museum




Like a sprinter attempting to break the 10-second barrier for 100 meters, Ikeda Terumasa is forever challenging his previous records, attempting to create ever more minute mother-of-pearl inlays.
Digital, pixels, matrix, integrated circuits…these are all words we were not used to hearing until recently, but despite using traditional Japanese techniques, the circuitry of Ikeda’s mind must gleam like the seven colors of the shells as he creates his works.
The technique of mother-of-pearl inlay was first introduced into Japan during the ninth century. It is an art craft that consists of applying motifs cut from the shells of green turban or black lip oyster to a coating of black urushi lacquer. Its beauty and rarity made it popular among the ruling classes, with examples being found in the eighth-century Shōsōin collection as well as in the collections of European nobility. Even today, one thousand years later, it is still produced as an art craft.
So what holds the most power today? The most powerful commodity in the world now, is information.
Ikeda Terumasa was brought up in the age of anime and subculture. When he was still a student, he visited the Art Crafting Towards the Future exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa and in it he discovered a new future for Japanese traditional art crafts.
For the motifs of his work, he employs objects symbolizing the present day, such as computers, or introduces the latest scientific techniques, designing his works and perfecting his technique to create ultra-fine mother-of-pearl inlays that seem to shine like lightning.
‘I want to create things that only I can make today. I want to create things that nobody else has ever seen before.’
In 2020, the world was devastated by the pandemic, but young people have done their best to carry on with their lives. Ikeda Terumasa is one of these and devotes himself to preserving Japan’s traditional art crafts. There is no more need to worry. I look forward to seeing what he will achieve as he moves into the future.

Aono Keiko
Ippodo Gallery