Why, Yes, Those Are Carved-Pearl Skulls Dwarfed By Berries
That’s no visual trickery. Yes, those are skulls sculpted from pearls. Yes, those berries are at least twice their size.
What is it about skulls? Their austerity is understandably synonymous with living things stripped bereft of life’s vibrancy, stark reminders of inescapable mortality’s inhabitable revocation of so much we hold dear. Yet, sugar skulls and crystal skulls are vigils of everlasting, ethereal and beautiful life that never dims, even as the last lights in our eyes extinguish forever more. Their allure as symbols is, at the same time, disquieting and undeniable.
The luminous luster of his chosen medium itself is mesmerizing enough, but then we look closer at Japanese artist and jeweler Shinji Nakaba’s painstaking anatomical refinement in his skulls. These are no crude representations or idols. By devoting himself to almost eerily graceful lifelike contours, he imbues each oyster pearl seemingly with a little lost soul that looks back from rings, necklaces, and brooches.
If you can’t manage the experience of viewing his works currently on display at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts or various museums and galleries throughout Japan, you can find his pearl carvings and jewelry designs for sale via his online shop.