Last Updated:Jun 24, 2014

Disintegrations and Explorations of Negative Space – Zon Ito

A few minutes walk from the ever-hectic Harajuku, nestling in a quiet street is a one room exhibition that proves to be a world within a world – its compactness providing a welcome, inspirational break.

Photo courtesy of Little More Chika
Kyoto based artist Zon Ito’s work fits comfortably in the basement space of the Little More Chika Gallery. He employs a variety of media: delicately executed pen and pencil drawings, some large sewn canvases, origami folded leaves, sculptures, and a couple of modest video pieces. Don’t let the modesty or diversity of the materials fool you into thinking the works are insignificant or unfocused – this show is a true small gem.

The work seems to have a very clear phenomenological connection to materiality itself, with natural substances such as leaves and sticks having been juxtaposed and integrated into the larger scheme of the exhibition. Drawn lines mirror sewn threads, with both appearing to hover over a boundless surface, be it bright white paper or a pleasing flat color. With echoes of early Cubism the spaces between objects and their many planes seem as important as the objects themselves. Forms disintegrate and the exploration of negative space lends the drawings and embroidery a feeling of spaciousness. Ito develops his investigations of places (such as the Meiji Shrine), animals (in the form of skulls, fish and horses) and the connections between the human and natural world in such a playful way that it is impossible not to be drawn in.

Ito’s video work is a stop-motion animation of a red circle moving through a forest like a lively wood nymph from some sort of Shinto folk tale. Next to the video work, the actual circle is there, drawn onto a piece of paper pinned together with a beautiful curved leaf. What appeared alive is now transformed. The small video piece Big Footage consists of a miniature TV screen displayed within a drawer. A mirror-like object has been balanced on the screen, creating the illusion of hologram. The animation itself is rather like a 3D biology model or late 1970s computer game and like the punch line of a joke you maybe didn’t get but found funny anyway, just behind the mirror you’ll find a deflated pink rabbit balloon.

Photo courtesy of Little More Chika

All of Ito’s work in this show seems to mimic a childlike delight in the natural world but extends this into a layered experiment in the arrangement of related investigative elements. The juxtaposition of objects and drawings adds layers of meaning as new connections are formed and played with. Having previously exhibited at the Kodama Gallery in Osaka and much bigger venues such as Art Tower Mito and the 2001 Yokohama Triennale, this small exhibition is an opportunity to get more intimately acquainted with his thoughtful work. You leave this little haven of art feeling refreshed and ready to take a walk in Yoyogi park – only that this time you will look at it in a different way.

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Rachel Carvosso

Rachel Carvosso

Born in the year of the horse in upmarket Chelsea, she spent the majority of her childhood in rural Devon playing bows and arrows and making clothes for the fairies out of small flowers and shrubbery. Studying Art in Oxford she discovered a world of magic and mystery that inspired writers such as CS Lewis, Tolkien and more recently Phillip Pullman. Various roles have been assumed over the ensuing years - artist, teacher, social worker, writer. She is currently working on a collection of poetry and drawings and researching Environmental/Social Arts.

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