NEWS

New and old stories about Japanese Crafts. 

The Art of the In-Between

JapanSuite_ReiKawakubo_1
JapanSuite_ReiKawakubo5
JapanSuite_ReiKawakubo4
JapanSuite_ReiKawakubo2

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) has a stunning exhibition of famed fashion designer Rei Kawakubo’s work. Of course, she is synonymous with Commes des Garcons, and The Met has put together a really intriguing exhibition that looks at opposites in her work. It blurs the lines of what we think opposite means and looks at what’s in between. It is the essence of what she has done since founding Commes de Garcons in 1969 -- embracing two Japanese principles:  mu (emptiness) and its relation to ma (space). The concept of opposites blurring invokes the space in between.

JapanSuite_ReiKawakubo6

As always,we were really impressed by Kawakubo’s body of work as well as the great manner in which the exhibit was curated and designed. We’ve been to other shows in the Costume Institute at The Met that were stunning, but they were typically staged in dramatic setting with more direct lighting, to great effect. But Kawakubo’s work was portrayed entirely different. The staging was white with a matrix of overhead lighting from the ceiling and no spot-lighting on the displays. It emphasized the bold shapes of Kawakubo’s work, reflecting the colors and theme of the exhibit as well as her design ethos..

There are several concepts of “in-betweenness” portrayed in the exhibition and we could go into great detail about each, but I think the visuals tell the story.

Altering Graffiti — A New Form of Signature

 Enrico Isamu Oyama's newest work ©Japan Suite

Enrico Isamu Oyama's newest work ©Japan Suite

Oyama organic creation on the exhibition opening night ©Japan Suite

 Gallery located next to Frank Gehry designed IAC building in Chelsea ©Japan Suite

Gallery located next to Frank Gehry designed IAC building in Chelsea ©Japan Suite

New York City and graffiti are synonymous, if not so much now, certainly in the latter part of the previous century. So, the back courtyard at Jane Lombard Gallery in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood was an appropriate setting for Japanese-Italian artist Enrico Isamu Oyama to showcase his talents live. We liked watching him work organically in the outdoor setting framed on three sides by brick walls and on the fourth by the iconic Frank Gehry IAC building.

Oyama was born in Tokyo to an Italian father and Japanese mother. The family took trips every summer to northern Italy, which provided Oyama with two key inspirations. The dichotomy of the fast pace of Tokyo life and the relaxed vibe of rural northern Italy gave him multiple perspectives of the world. The other defining moment for him was his discovery and immersion into “graffiti culture”, which was especially active in Italy at the dawn of the new millennium.

Oyama explains how that inspiration influences his art. “In graffiti culture, a name, composed of stylized letters, represents writer’s alter ego”, he says. “I remove letter shapes, extract only the flowing line and repeat it to maximize its dynamism. By doing so, I create an abstract motif. Instead of having a new name for myself, I gave a name to the motif: Quick Turn Structure (QTS).

“QTS has its own life. Its physical manifestations are channelled into unique art pieces from one specific moment in time. The pieces are called FFIGURATI, a term referring to the word “graffiti” and the Italian expression “figùrati” — literally translated as “figure it out yourself”.”

Oyama, who now calls New York City home, has collaborated with such iconic Japanese brands as  COMME des GARÇONS and Shu Uemura. And speaking of COMME des GARÇONS, the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC has just opened a comprehensive retrospective of Rei Kawakubo’s avant garde designs. We will be checking it out in a few days and will have much to show and say on here very soon.

Bigger is Definitely Better for Iconic NYC Photography Show

 Nightcall by Sascha Weidner

Nightcall by Sascha Weidner

One of our favorite things always in New York is to visit art shows, and we met the new spring season this year with a very cool photography show held by AIPAD, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers.

The show this year was big and impressive. The location had moved from Park Avenue Armory to Pier 94, which made room for 115 galleries from around the world as well as 30 book sellers/publishers.

With the number of countries participating came a great variety of vintage to contemporary, classic to experimental with a vast array in terms of medium and techniques. Not surprising given the state of our current world, a great variety of the art displayed political messages. Some pieces, we don’t necessarily call photography, but related or derived. We were impressed by the potential of photography as art more than any of the shows we visited recently.

And of course, we were drawn to talented Japanese artists works. Here are a few that caught our eyes!

Particularly we had a great conversation with Ibasho from Antwerp, Belgium, which literally means “a place where you can be yourself.” They are collectors of Japanese prints turned dealers. We felt their love for Japanese photographers sensibilities and unique explorations.

One of the artists they presented was Motohiro Takeda, who is fascinated by camera obscura and the idea of being inside the camera. One of his series titled “Another Sun” is a dramatic, large scale print of an inverted sun, which started as a result of the fortuitous accidental representation of the sun on a piece of photographic paper on the wall of his apartment.

Here are some of the other artists with connections to Japan that we were also quite impressed by.

 Motohiro Takeda

Motohiro Takeda

AkiraSato
 Albarrán Cabrera

Albarrán Cabrera

 Albarrán Cabrera

Albarrán Cabrera

 AlecSoth_Sari

AlecSoth_Sari

 Michiko Yamawaki

Michiko Yamawaki

 MaoIshikawa

MaoIshikawa

  Issei Suda

 Issei Suda

By the way, this was one of the most instagrammed booth at the show.

©Japan Suite

Fall preview from Japan Suite

 Motion plate by Kihachi

Motion plate by Kihachi

We hope you had a wonderful summer. 

At Japan Suite, we are busy preparing for Fall products. And we would like you to preview a few of them today!

We are planning to introduce some unique glass jewelry pieces by Harrys as well as traditional lacquerware from Kihachi in Ishikawa. And from Kyoto, we are going to showcase bamboo dinnerware by Takano Chikko.

We are excited about these artists and will let you know as soon they are ready on our site.

 Bonbon necklace (silver) by Harrys

Bonbon necklace (silver) by Harrys

The Simple Truth

 Notice Forest by Yuken Teruya ©Japan Suite

Notice Forest by Yuken Teruya ©Japan Suite

We just visited Yuken Teruya’s new show, The Simple Truth, at Josee Bienvenu gallery in NYC. Teruya is a New York based artist from Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan. His works utilizes ordinary objects to reveal underlying problems of our society.  

One of his most recognized pieces is a series of paper cut-out trees that seem to be growing inside paper bags. These trees may appear fragile, but can also look as if they are supporting the bag. This symbolizes the full circle of a tree that became paper, and then a commercial bag, and then the bag symbolically returns to the original tree.

Here is the artist’s statement. "Uncovering small metamorphosis in familiar objects is an exercise which enables one to turn routine into moments of significance, making us more aware of the indefinite alterations in our surroundings."

Another exhibit showed a series of New York Times newspapers depicting tragedy or conflict around the world on their front pages. However, “growing” or “sprouting” out of the assorted troubling news were trees and flowers that had been laboriously cut from the photos on the front page and folded to stand up as if growing in a field or forest. These papers, which came from trees, were used to depict and report chaotic world events--but in the hands of Teruya, they became an intriguing garden of life emerging from tales of death and destruction.

There is also a series of newspapers from his hometown in Okinawa reporting on a massive local protest against the U.S. Air Force there --  with the theme “It’s about me, It’s about you. There is a truth bigger than geopolitics.”  Stencil cut into each paper is a phrase, written in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, Georgian, English and Basque. Teruya has used Okinawan traditional patterns called Bingata Kimono to express his messages in the past. While it is talking about a long history of occupation and friction with Japan and USA, the art piece is calm and poetic.

In addition, his other work, Forest Inc, is also on view now at 601 ArtSpace here in New York until April 25.

  Minding My Own Business by Yuken Teruya ©Japan Suite

Minding My Own Business by Yuken Teruya ©Japan Suite

  ©Japan Suite

 ©Japan Suite

 It's about me, it's about you. ©Japan Suite

It's about me, it's about you. ©Japan Suite

 ©Japan Suite

©Japan Suite