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.