Since returning from my winter holiday in the United States, a combination of illness, jet lag, and the fertile void have made the first month of 2018 sputter in fits and starts. On Monday, somewhere between four to eight inches of snow fell upon Tokyo. Traversing through the city in the midst of the snow on Monday night and then on the subsequent days navigating walkways spotted with mounds and films of ice made me realise that snow and all its consequences sums up my experience of the New Year until now. It is messy, inconsistent, slippery, otherworldly, and beautiful at the same time.
I have been trying to find my footing in the studio as the year starts. There have been an array of tentative and undetermined plans which were up in the air through most of this month. As we tumble into the last weekend of January, I can say that I see things a bit clearer and more concrete, but I expect the starts and fits to continue with varying intensity much like the remnants of the snow and ice continue to dot the city landscape.
Rather than spending time in the studio, I have been focused on getting applications out for residencies in the hopes of carving out four weeks of time in the fall to do studio work. More on that in another post, soon, I hope. I have also spent the first part of this year catching up on my museum and gallery hopping.
Rather than give a step by step synopsis of my wanderings, the snow and its associated light seems like an appropriate theme to talk about some of the exhibitions that have struck me over the last few weeks.
After returning from the United States, on the first weekend back, I headed over to Gallery Aoneko (Blue Cat) to pick up the piece that I purchased from Ryoko Sugizaki during the course of her solo exhibition there. At the same time, I would be able to see the "New + Sな新年展" which was a group exhibition of small works by 50 artists. There were three artists that I gravitated towards, but the one I will mention here related to snow is Hiroshi Suzuki. He uses systems to create beautifully executed abstract paintings. For the exhibition, he presented "√2" which was a grid of white dots of various diameters corresponding to the digits 0 - 9. He then arranged these dots in the sequence of the the irrational number √2 - 1.41..........
You can see a representative piece of his work below from his postcard announcement for an exhibition last year at Gallery Hinoki
This past Wednesday, I spent the day hopping from gallery to gallery to catch shows that would be closing this weekend. I made the rounds from Komagome to Okachimachi to Ginza to Unoki over the course the afternoon and managed to see of the exhibitions I wanted to see and a few extra ones.
I headed over to 3331 Arts Chiyoda to see Takashi Nakajima's exhibition "Days and Subtleties" at Gallery Out of Place Tokio. Being Wednesday, I assumed all galleries would be open, but as I stepped on the 2nd floor of 3331 Arts Chiyoda, I saw that the entrance to the gallery was closed. As I knelt down to check the exhibition signboard, I realised that they were closed on Wednesday. As luck would have it, the gallery director, Mr. Nomura, was stepping out of the gallery and he must have seen me staring at the signboard. He asked which exhibition I wanted to see and I told him that it was Takashi Nakajima's exhibition. He told me that it was closed today, BUT he could open the gallery up for me to see the exhibition. I expressed my appreciation and entered the space. In the exhibition announcement, Nakajima writes
"To capture the ephemeral nature of daily life, I explore the possibility of stretch film through my work. Very thin but tough and elastic...I'm expressing myself through this unique medium to slightly magnify small "hooks" we would find in everyday."
He created an installation in which the stretch film is pulled in columns from the floor to various heights on the gallery walls and then ties the end of stretch film to a small hook embedded in the wall. This gives each strand of stretch film an elongated triangular shape. They are anchored between a series of beams installed on the floor to create layers of these shapes. Seeing these forms lining the gallery, I could not help thing of Superman's Fortress of Solitude as well as frozen stalagmites. If you get a chance, stop by the exhibition which runs through Sunday, January 28th.
Upon entering Mitsuhito Wada's "Eternal Existence" at Gallery Camellia, I was reminded of early morning or late evening sunlight reflecting off of snow.
For this exhibition, Mitsuhito Wada utilised video cameras, projectors, and mirrors to create two luminous spaces in the gallery. The first room is a icy blue hue. As you enter the field of vision of the camera, you are then projected onto the walls of the gallery. Add to that the opposing mirrors when lend an infinity effect to the your actual reflection and then the projections of your reflection.
In the second room which is a sun drenched yellow, he utilises a video camera and two projectors to create projections of the space, objects and persons that also go on ad infinitum except each subsequent projection is inverted.
I spent a good amount of time in the space to try and capture the effect by still image and video. I ended up with this.
Spending a good amount of time scrolling through my Instagram feed, I noticed an increasing number of images from Fujiko and Ukichiro Nakaya's "Greenland" exhibition at Maison Hermes. The space has been tailored to creating a fog installation within the space and many of the pictures looked quite otherworldly. I headed over to Maison Hermes to see the exhibition with a bit of fear that it would be quite crowded. As it turns out, my fears were unfounded and entered a relatively uncrowded space. The fog installation is activated every half hour at 15 and 45 past. During the intervals, you can wander around the space and learn more about the work of Ukichiro Nakaya who is credited with being the first to manufacture artificial snowflakes. His daughter Fujiko Nakaya created her first fog installation in 1970 for the Pepsi Pavilion for Expo '70 in Osaka and has been making fog installations around the world since then. I have had a long standing fascination with the Arctic, Antarctic, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska...You get the point. There is an abundance of documentation of both their work throughout the space and I spent time before and after the fog installation taking in the documentation and dreaming again of someday doing the Arctic Circle Residency. Here are a series of photographs during the course the fog installation.
So in the end, the last full week of January circles around through snow, light, and fog. A sign perhaps that it is the time to begin experimenting with these elements in my drawings.