life/art  



Looking like cracked plates of mud
on a dried up riverbed, Kenichi Kanazawa's sculpture resounds like a temple bell. A huge heavy disc of steel has been cut in jagged lines and mounted on rubber feet. When struck it acts like a Xylophone and each piece of steel resonates like a mellow gong. Surrounding the large, circular, floor sculpture are various implements to play on it such as a Ping-Pong ball. When bounced across it, the metal sculpture 'ding-dongs' out a tune as spiritual as any heard in sacred ceremonies.

The exhibition life/art curated by Masaki Higuchi at the Shiseido Gallery brings together 5 contemporary Japanese artists to explore the relationship between art and life. An interesting aspect of the exhibition is that it will be repeated with the same five artists annually over the next five years. This is a long-term investment by the Gallery and the artists involved. It should pay a handsome dividend for the art going public. It is rare to see the development of artists in any consistent framework as this series of exhibition promises.

Masato Nakamura's installation is part of the exhibition but tucked away between two buildings on the street. Secreted, in those uniquely Tokyo, less-than-a-meter gaps between buildings, are 50-illuminated barber's poles. The spiraling red, white and blue poles flash out their message of an open hairdressing salon, to a passing trade of no one. In this dark narrow chasm they exist in a no mans land between their original use as signs and their new life as art objects. By choosing this site for this work, Nakamura cleverly creates a tension regarding the sign status as art. This examination of the nature of art is at the core of this fascinating exhibition.

Nobuyuki Tanaka's piece 'The Tactile Memory' is a huge black blob-like form growing from the wall. The object is an enigma. While appearing as if formed from an industrial mould it is in fact made from laquerware. The piece questions the artificiality of borders between art and craft.

Hajime Imamura's work 'aru KATACHI 2001-11' includes a life-size cast of the artist surrounded by various wall mounted objects. The piece questions our perceptions of reality.

Yoshiro Suda specializes in an art of deception. His work consists of apparently plastic flowers cunningly placed in quiet spots in art galleries. But no, these flowers are painstakingly carved from wood and painted to life. Suda's secretive flowers are an art ambush. His hand-craft skills amaze the general public while ridiculing the art world who have spent a century 'learning' to embracing the 'readymade' object the plastic flower -- as art.

Suda's simple floral insertions bring into question the artificiality of gallery spaces and undermine the elitism so prevalent with much contemporary art. Over the next five years, it will be a pleasure to note the reflections of these artists, not only on life around them, but on the state of contemporary art.



















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