The Five Directions: Lacquer Through East Asia

(Los Angeles, CA—December 13, 2022) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents The Five Directions: Lacquer Through East Asia, an exhibition offering a nuanced rethinking of lacquer in the region, celebrating Japan, Korea, China, and the Ryūkyū kingdom (Okinawa) as meeting points as well as centers in their own right.

The Five Directions traces the flow of materials and ideas throughout the region, where lacquer, a natural polymer derived from tree sap, was a widely circulated and prized commodity. Stylistic variations set regions apart, but the dynamic flow of techniques, materials, and visual vocabularies continued uninterrupted even during times of relative isolationism. Drawing inspiration from a spatial conception where North, South, East, and West are joined by a fifth direction, the Center, the exhibition unpacks the nature of these exchanges—as trade, tribute, and treasure. Visitors are invited to circumnavigate islands of micro-stories and trace the development of lacquer art as a multi-directional process. 

This exhibition was curated by Einor K. Cervone, formerly The Mozhai Foundation Curatorial Fellow, Chinese Art Department at LACMA and currently Associate Curator of Asian Art at the Denver Museum of Art, with support from Stephen Little, the Florence & Harry Sloan Curator of Chinese Art, and Department Head, Chinese and Korean Art Departments at LACMA.