I no naka no kawazu, taikai o shirazu
The frog in the well cannot conceive of the ocean
The ‘Inside Looking Out’ series of exhibitions selects three artists whose birth place is Japan, who identify as Japanese, whose art genres and techniques are strongly linked to tradition, who see themselves as protectors and propagators of those traditions, and who by virtue of these alone might be labelled as culturally specific ‘insiders,’ yet from within have developed resonating international perspectives.
Are Japanese artists defined by their national and cultural identity or are they international artists who happen to be born Japanese? Consideration of this question revolves around both internal and external perceptions as well as subjective and objective identifications, around definitions of’ insider’ and ‘outsider’.
‘Inside Looking Out’ mirrors our 2014 series ‘Outside Looking In’. In the latter, we looked at three Japanese ‘outsider’ artists who ‘have given up residence in Japan to seek more creative and less restrictive environments outside’. We spoke of Japan’s ‘hierarchical classification system, (of) the art world where rigidly bureaucratic traditional organizations control not only the selection of works for exhibition and complementary awards and prizes, but also the characteristics of works to be submitted.’ Inside Looking Out’ takes the opposite view and looks at three contemporary artists who have defied the system from within and successfully cultivated a broad international perspective and audience. With mastery and respect for traditional practice and techniques, they have moulded these to their individual creative spirits and in so doing address the universal in the global world of contemporary art.
The three artists selected for Inside Looking Out are singularly different in genre, approach and concept.
Shumei Kobayashi is a practising Buddhist Shugendō shaman and master of Japan’s traditional dyeing arts tsutugaki and yūzen. Taught by a Living National Treasure artist who was an associate of the famous Yanagi Sōetsu, Shumei has taken the art into the realm of the contemporary. His designs speak to a profound understanding of the essence of things and thereby find common ground with modern design and abstraction.
Koji Hatakeyama – The Radiant Void : September 14 ~ October 21
Tuesday to Friday 11am to 5pm
Koji Hatakeyama uses the ancient art of bronze casting to transform the ubiquitous ‘contained vessel’, the box, into a form for the expression of duality- the outer and the inner. He creates free-flowing abstract landscapes on rigid forms and invites the viewer to discover an inner world of radiant spirituality,’ there is a sense of enlightenment when opening the lid, my intention is to enter a different world’. His works are widely represented in major international museums.
Maio Motoko – Extraordinary Perspectives : November 2 – December 23
Tuesday to Friday 11am to 5pm
Maio Motoko is a radical, a free spirit who assiduously sought an appropriate medium for unfettered self-expression: That medium is the folding screen, a form intimately connected with ambivalence – the fine art of Japanese tradition, yet at the same time a functional piece of furniture and a decorative object. Unaffected by the opprobrium of Japan’s conservative art ‘frogs’ and their limited perspectives, Maio‘s materials are as radical as her reinvention of the form. What was traditionally a canvas for classic, rule-bound painting, is transformed into an emotionally powerful and seductive call to self-discovery. Acquired recently for the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Maio Motoko has conceived the ocean.