18 October 2018

Marina Oriental Art : The Dealer Behind The Objects

Marina Oriental Art is one of the finest and most well established Asian Art specialists in London...

The dealership is run by Marina Kokhan, a trained classical historian well versed in the visual cultures of (to name a few !) Japan, China, India and Ancient Greece

Working for many years as a museum curator in Moscow, Marina became particularity passionate about Japanese Art. Her specialism is the Meiji period; world renowned for it's beautiful intricacies, and of which she holds some of the rarest and finest pieces in existence.

Marina, please tell us what is so special about Japanese Meiji?

Japanese Meiji is highly collectable. And there’s good reason for it. First of all, it encompasses a very short historical period. It refers to objects made during the Meiji Period which lasted between 1868 and 1912. Everything was carefully hand made by incredibly skilled craftsmen. During that time there was no copying, and only a limited amount of objects were created. At the same time there’s huge variety in terms of materials used because it encompasses art work from every field; bronze sculpture, miniatures like netsuke and inro, metalwork, armour, lacquer, ceramics, silver, porcelain and enamel objects. Beyond technical virtuosity, of course, stylistically the art and design of the Meiji Period is hugely desirable because it's so elegant. And that’s why prices are quite high. But it’s a very specialised and a very niche market.

How did you find yourself here at Grays?

All of us who have an expertise in the field know each other; collectors, dealers, designers and historians. That’s why it is important to be based at Grays. It’s a place with tradition and reputation. Trust is very important in our work because we are trading with authentic objects. It is also marvellously well- located in Mayfair. There is a waiting list for dealers to be given a shop at Grays- I was on that waiting list once!

How does Japanese Meiji Art relate to you?

I worked for many years at the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow. It’s a museum in an incredible building with an astonishing collection. I loved my role there and as it was life changing: it focused my energy and knowledge on the Meiji Period. I admire the creativity and quality of Meiji art. And it’s a great privilege to work with such fine pieces. That's where my expertise lies and it will continue to be my life's work. I started working in the private sector, as many of us did, during the Perestroika movement. In 1992 we opened the first Gallery of Oriental Art in the centre of Moscow, just down the road from the Kremlin. We were based within a section of the vast State Museum building and the Gallery still exists today. It was my personal life that brought me to London.

How do you find trading from Grays?

I am very happy here. People know me and I am well established. I have lots of new customers and I still keep in touch with designers and collectors I used to work with in Moscow. I get a lot of compliments about my stock which gives me confidence in my work. I have my regular customers and others who come to Grays to look for something special. Today I sold a particularly fine piece of silver and enamel Meiji art...

Interviewed Thursday 13 October 2018 by Titika Malkogeorgou

Although it's hard to select only a few: here are some of our favourite pieces now available at Marina Oriental Art,  Grays...

Meiji Period Silver Shibayama Carving and Encrustation Small Decorative Tray in the Shape of a Fan, late 19th century, Japan.

Meiji Period Satsuma Painted Ceramic Vase, late 19th century, Japan

Meiji Period Shibayama  and Enamel Metal Box, Late 19th – Early 20th century, Japan

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Tray signed Kinza, late 19th century, Japan

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Tray (underside) signed Kinza, late 19th century, Japan

One of a Pair of Ceramic Vases, 19th century, China

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Miniature Pair of Vases, late 19th century, Japan

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Large Vase, Late 19th century Japan

Left: Boxwood and Lacquer Netsuke Dog, late 19th century, Japan
Right: Boxwood and Lacquer Netsuke Sleeping Boy, late 19th century, Japan

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