Past Exhibition

life/art 03The Exhibition “life/art,” presents new works by the same five artists, Hajime Imamura, Kenichi Kanazawa, Yoshihiro Suda, Nobuyuki Tanaka and Masato Nakamura, for a period of five consecutive years, with the aim to reanalyze the established concepts of art and craft. For this third year, Nobuyuki Tanaka has proposed the theme “to touch,” which he invites the other four artists to tackle.

One of the differences between art and craft is the "ability/inability to touch." As the term "visual art"indicates, art is completed when it is seen, while craft is something that should be both seen and utilized. In the modernist context, craft has been considered to be lower in grade than art because of its plural nature. However, such ways of thinking are changing in contemporary art. For example, Kenichi Kanazawa's series "Fragments of Sound," which is made from pieces of iron that create sound when touched, bring the act of touching and hearing to the same level of importance as the act of seeing. Works of art like this, which demands multiple ways of appreciation can no longer be confined to the framework of "visual art." Through the idea of "touching," we can see how the frameworks that define art and craft are becoming vague.

Tanaka, who has proposed the theme for this year says that lacquer, which is his medium, looks most beautiful and almost voluptuous when it is still wet. Tanaka's polished black (roiro) technique stems from this desire to simulate this wetness. The lacquered surface that is polished almost to the extent of appearing like a mirror, entices us into touching it. At the same time, however, we become hesitant to touch this object. This may probably be because the object shifts from something that is to be "touched" to something that is to be "seen." Our thoughts waver between the ideas of "touching" and "seeing." On this occasion, Tanaka, who usually makes organic forms using the dry lacquer technique, has decided to hold back his desire to create forms and will select rectangular aluminum sheets and long wooden pipes for his base materials. Tanaka will focus on lacquering, polishing and buffing these simple forms and challenge to create works that depend only on the beauty of the lacquered surfaces. Through these works, Tanaka raises questions revolving around ideas of touching and seeing.

Imamura will present humorous works that move when touched. Kanazawa will present a new piece from his "Fragments of Sound" series, which require the viewer to take off their shoes before stepping onto the iron pieces. In other words, these are works that demand a certain kind of manner in order to be appreciated. Suda will also present a work that will transform the idea of touching into manners. Each artist will present new ways of interpreting the idea of touching through their works.

Nakamura, who has in the past taken symbols inside the urban landscape such as convenient store and McDonald's signs will focus on the power distribution boards that are interspersed among the city. The distribution boards, which are made for underground cables as opposed to telephone poles are designed in quiet colors so as not to interfere with the cityscape. Nakamura has decided to transform the urban landscape by redesigning these distribution boards so that they stand out aesthetically. The prototype for the distribution boards that were redesigned by Nakamura will be exhibited inside the gallery, alongside maps indicating the distribution boards in Ginza. Viewers can take these maps and walk around the city. When they return, they can contribute ideas as to how they would design the distribution boards. Nakamura has already begun to negotiate with a distribution board maker to realize some of the significant designs submitted by the viewers. Although Nakamura's work marks a strong contrast to the other works, he has taken the idea of "touching" in the broad sense of the word and will attempt to visualize how people come in contact with others and the city.

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