Promenade in Asia - After Kitsch  

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, and Taipei.

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 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, star-like.

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 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

Shiseido Gallery

Shiseido Bldg. B1 Ginza 8-8-3 Tel: 03.3289.8204 11:00 - 19:00 closed Tuesday