"Sensing Nature: Rethinking The Japanese Perception Of Nature" Exhibition
This event has ended.
Winter turns to spring, summer turns to autumn. We sense the shifts not just by the changes in the temperature and the scenery, but in the smells carried on the breeze and the quality of the sunlight. Over two thirds of Japan's population lives in its cities, which make up just a small fraction of its landmass. And yet we are still able to read nature with our bodies. Japan's temperate climate and its mountainous topography gave birth to a unique natural environment, which in turn fostered an ancient cosmology and spirituality which have greatly influenced our culture and arts.
In "Sensing Nature: Yoshioka Tokujin, Shinoda Taro, Kuribayashi Takashi" we think about how the innate human ability to perceive nature (to sense nature) and the Japanese view of nature exist in our urbanized and modernized world. We also ask how those views are reflected in contemporary art and design practices. Yoshioka Tokujin, Shinoda Taro and Kuribayashi Takashi are three internationally active artists/designers who give abstract or symbolic expression to immaterial or amorphous concepts as well as natural phenomenon such as snow, water, wind, light, stars, mountains, waterfalls and forests. Their ideas of nature suggest that it is not something that is to be contrasted with the human world, but that it is something that incorporates all life forms, including human beings. Their works hint that we have inherited this all-encompassing cosmology deep in our memories and in our DNA.
Consisting of newly commissioned works by each of the three participant artists, the exhibition attempts to stimulate our sense of nature through large-scale installations that invite visitors to partake of physical experiences that engage their bodies.
[Image: Takashi Kuribayashi, "Drawing for New Work" (2010)]
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Though all of the works exhibited were striking and cleanly executed, there was an overwhelming sense of a lack of human touch in nearly all of the works that left me cold.
Even with such a potentially interesting theme, the exhibition was unsuccessful because the artists were too similar, all men of within only three years of age, all working with sculpture or installation and all seemingly so secure about their ideas regarding nature. Where were the questions? Did any other viewers walk away with questions or new understandings of nature or the perception of nature? I may have missed something, but was there a reason why we can`t perceive nature or think about and it make paintings, drawings, even, god forbid, small scale work? The work all felt very loud to me, even the quietest pieces, which I happened to like quite well but still took up entire rooms.
Judging from other viewers reactions, I imagine I am not the only one who felt this way.
I can`t really find fault with most of the works and as individual pieces they were interesting. However, under the banner of the show exhibition title, the show as a whole was disappointing and misleading.
The Mori scales up a show of small ideas to fill a big space
What happens when you take a few interesting but rather limited artistic ideas on the theme of “nature” and then completely over-amplify them? Probably something like “Sensing Nature,” a new exhibition at the Mori Art Museum that threatens to “rethink the Japanese perception of nature.”