A Boston Gallery Unites Two Furniture Makers Who Find Expressiveness in Natural Material
By Anna Furman
With his medley of European and Asian influences, Thomas Hucker fabricates clean-lined furniture from oak, palm, walnut, and various exotic woods. Yuri Kobayashi’s work falls within a similar aesthetic realm, though it often includes even more diverse materials, sometimes in pieces that are closer to sculpture than furniture. At Gallery NAGA in Boston, an impressive new show intertwines their practices.
Made of mahogany and alluringly stained purpleheart wood, Hucker’s Fan Table (2016) embodies his high level of craftsmanship. Bows of wood bisect the underside of the xylophone-like piece, while, topside, an array of smooth, curvilinear segments show off the neatly balanced negative space.
His brilliantly proportioned Ledge Table (2016) features an unconventional configuration as well. Constructed from black palm and holly, the imposing piece is painted with an eggshell-based lacquer that highlights patterns inherent to the woodgrain.
Likewise, Kobayashi’s rich, varied practice pivots from one material to another—rawhide, oak, birch, ash, acrylics, etc., sometimes within the same piece. She creates complex, mechanistic forms that maintain their expressiveness. For instance, Madison (2014) is a functional lamppost elegantly rendered in white oak and granite. Using found glass and a striking combination of materials, Kobayashi thoughtfully juxtaposes textures with a keen emphasis on organic structure.
While works like Lin (2015) and Reverie I and II (both 2016) function as a chair and cabinet set, respectively, other idiosyncratic pieces are seemingly disinterested in functionality. Curio’s (2015) tentacle-like appendages lend it an air of otherworldliness, while the ladder-like Will (2011) has an undulating, leafy form clinging to its middle rungs. Precariously propped up, the intriguing piece nevertheless stands on its own.