There are two ways that the skill of craftsmanship can be emphasized: by showing it off through masses of meticulous decorative details, or by stripping everything to the bare minimum and bringing into focus just a few perfectly executed qualities. Think of it as maximalism vs. minimalism — Gucci vs. Kinfolk.

You might assume that cloisonne — with its recurring ornate motifs delineated in fine silver and gold wire and inlaid with richly colored enamels — would fall squarely into the former category. But one look at the early 20th-century "Incense Burner with Chrysanthemum Arabesques" by Yasuyuki Namikawa on show at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum (Teien), will prove you wrong. Predominantly white, it is decorated with just a single band of green leaves and blue flowers.

"Namikawa Yasayuki and Japanese Cloisonne," a retrospective of the artisan credited with popularizing Japanese cloisonne during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), has a wealth of other unexpected exhibits — jars with painterly landscapes, vases sporting understated compositions and containers with simple designs. It is these later works that best illustrate Namikawa's innovative approach to cloisonne as an artistic medium, rather than as a purely decorative art. But even his earlier classic pieces, created for export during the height of Japonisme in Europe, displayed unusual features unseen in the Chinese cloisonne from which his craft derived.