Designer window displays, polished wooden floors, clean white walls,
contemporary lighting and modernist architectural fittings make the recently
refurbished Shiseido Gallery in Ginza the showpiece art space in Tokyo.
'After Kitsch', the current exhibition, brings to these elegant surrounds
works of art that have emerged from a very different aesthetic. 'After
Kitsch' is an exhibition which pushes the boundaries of art and explores
unique aspects of contemporary taste from the urban centers of East Asia.
The exhibition features the work of five artists from Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing,
As you enter the Gallery on the ground level you are forced to
negotiate the dancing line of Tokyo based artist, Hosoi Atsushi. His work
of kinetic sculpture is mesmerizingly simple. A loop of cotton thread
is blown upwards in a circle by a blast of air through a tube. The thread
dances hypnotically in a buzzing loop, like a line drawn in space. He
calls these works 'sculptures of breath' and in smaller versions someone
actually blows through the tube to bring the sculpture to life. The title
and the work refers to Ma Ð a traditional Japanese concepts of space and
time. Similarly each artist in the exhibition explores aspects of change
and tradition within their culture.
The most dramatic work in the exhibition is by Taiwanese artist Chu
Chiahua. His work consists of hundreds of glass-crystal pineapples hung
from the wall. Three sizes of glass pineapples are arranged to represent
the stellar constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. Under the sparkling
gallery lighting and against an intense blue wall, the crystal fruit twinkle,
Chu Chiahau past works have also featured paper pineapples, which
are traditonally hung outside shops in Taipei. Pineapples are considered
charms, which offer good luck for the business within. Representing the
immensity and beauty of the cosmos through trinkets from cheap 100 yen
type stores, takes on a special meaning in Taipei where, like the other
East Asian metropolis's', the starry night sky has long been obliterated
by the city lights. The glass pineapples, which have a touristy, bad taste
touch about them, are transformed through Chu Chiahau's work to take on
a collective Ð universal -- beauty.
Chung Seoyoung makes starkly minimal works of art, out of common
hardware store materials. They have an unsettlingly familiar look of furniture
about them. Her works in the exhibition include a series of shapes made
from industrial carpet and a doorway made from a wall of blank plywood.
Only a blue nylon net curtain and two lamps decorate the shape. The look
is unfinished interior design, yet the materials are cheap and industrial.
This space is in dramatic contrast to the polished woods and straw matting
featured in East Asian interiors, common less than a generation ago.
The flux of East meets West and the resulting dynamic of loss and
gain is the fertile source these artists' work. They track the new hybridity
of contemporary life and culture generated in these burgeoning urban centers
of East Asia. 'After Kitsch' is paralleled by another exhibition at the
Art tower Mito. Titled 'Cute', it presents another nine artists from the
region and continues the theme of mapping cultural change. Get a sample
taste for this blamange of the traditional blended with modern at the
Shiseido Gallery, Ginza before embarking for Mito