“Terrifyingly beautiful” is what comes to mind when I look at Senju’s work. After I have had a chance to take it all in I am just left asking myself how on earth he manages to achieve the effects and intricacy the likes of which I think defeat comparison (in the silver world at any rate). It was only when I started to read Senju’s personal blog that the answer became pretty obvious – he is actually more of a sculptor than jewelery designer who specialises in one of my personal favorite materials – ivory (not from elephants – don’t worry). As it turns out he makes excruciatingly beautiful buttons, netsuke and larger sculptures to order and has only relatively recently began using the exact same techniques to produce wax molds for silver jewelery.
With that in mind I can definitely see the influences of netsuke in his work – the sense of movement, the slight showing-off at producing deliberately difficult effects and also an attention to his subject. In Senju’s case, the skull is his muse and in art terms I could draw comparisons to 1700 German carvings, but to my mind he is a true original.
Katharsis (top-left) is such an achievement from every angle and has to be the stand-out piece from his current collection. The ring (top-center) with the man coming out of the skull as a tongue is a bit too horrific for my tastes, but again manages to be original – which in a skull ring is a challenge!
I managed to find another example of his work produced to order for a fan and carved in wood with antler teeth.
The man himself is a bit of a biker, but very approacable by all accounts if you want to partake – he has no Tokyo stockist as of yet.
I do think that a background in carving really separates out the true silversmiths from the crowd. After all, Armand from Crazy Pig Designs carves in Tagua nuts and traditionally Japanese silver molds were carved in wood. At any rate, Senju is one artists who can do no wrong in my eyes.