Art director Takeshi Sawada has created the perfect winter gift for furniture-loving future designers. The gorgeously crafted Reindeer Chair is made from oak, walnut and deerskin, and celebrates the adorable woodland animal.
(full disclaimer: Sawada doesn’t specify what species of deer this is, but I like to pretend it’s a reindeer, just because it’s that time of year)
December 4, 2013 No Comments
Kenzo Minami is a man of many ideas. Ask him a question about his work and you’ll get a 20-minute answer that ends with Minami’s description of the final scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1962 film Eclipse. But therein lies the genius of the enigmatic, all-over-the-place designer.
And maybe that’s why his current retrospective “Mass Production” at hpgrp gallery feels so timely. It is indeed the first time Minami’s extensive, eclectic body of work, which includes a MoMA inducted Dunny toy of his model, Reebok sneakers, Eastpak carry-on luggage and a $5000 Affinity track bike, is being showcased together. And headlining the show is over 100 t-shirts (only a fraction of the work) from the Kenzo Minami apparel line, which had a healthy 9-year run and ended in 2011. And now he is in the midst of considering to reboot the line.
We caught up with Minami on site to discuss his current show.
Kenzo Minami: Mass Production
hpgrp gallery, New York
now extended through December 21, 2013
December 2, 2013 No Comments
These Japanese fonts won’t be found in textbooks or typography journals. You have to go looking for them on the streets of Japan: your local barber, an old florist, or an outdated toy shop. Finding beauty in these unsophisticated yet nostalgically charming fonts, 3 friends set out on a hunt to capture, fontify, and give something back to the community.
Obtaining permission from the store owners (many of whom have no graphic design background but were heavily involved in the creation of their unique fonts), Rintaro Shimohama, Naoki Nishimura and Shinya Wakaoka recreated the fonts and have made them available for download. The resulting project was titled Noramoji, a combination of the words nora (meaning stray) and moji (text).
All proceeds from the Noramoji project are given back to the store owners.
December 2, 2013 2 Comments
I’ve been going through a lot of student work this week (see it all here) and one of my favorites is this clever set of furniture that looks like rough sketches suddenly came to life. It’s enough to make you do a double-take, or to assume they’re just renderings. The collection, appropriately titled “rough sketch products” was created by art student Daigo Fukawa for his 2013 senior thesis exhibition at Tokyo University of the Arts.
I’m not sure how comfortable these pieces are, but in terms of bringing ideas to life (quite literally) Daigo Fukawa takes the cake.
November 27, 2013 No Comments
What should have been warm, fuzzy photos of couples are drastically transformed into stark, rather eerie portraits by Ayako Kanda and Mayuka Hayashi. Using an actual CT scan and x-ray machine, the students artists photographed 4 couples, removing the everyday information that we typically perceive. But surprisingly what is revealed is something more than what we would see in a doctor’s office.
“X-ray images usually show the finite nature of our bodies composed only of matter,” say the duo. “But these couples portraits reveal a pulse that isn’t normally seen.” Romantic? No. Intimate? Absolutely.
November 26, 2013 4 Comments
In a fascinating installation, artist and student Minami Arai uses books and wires to illuminate the lost art of the written word. “Before typewriters there was the written word,” says Arai in a statement. “The text would trace the action of writing , offering glimpses of the author’s personality current state of mind.”
In “Tracing Action” Arai uses thick wire and to recreate an elevated text from her favorite books. It’s as if the text is rising off the page and being brought to life.
The installation was part of Arai’s graduating thesis show at Musashino Art University. It then went on to win an award in the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award, which celebrates the work of student artists. You can see all our previous coverage of the awards HERE.
Arai even goes as far as to adjust the depth of edits made after the original writing to illustrate the passage of time.
November 25, 2013 No Comments
Finishing off our top picks of Japanese artists showing in New York this fall is Riusuke Fukahori. The 40-year old Yokohama-based artist will be making his debut solo exhibition in New York alongside his single obsession: goldfish.
Fukahori’s goldfish are not real, but can easily be mistaken for a living animal. Instead, the creations emerge and come to life from an incredibly meticulous process of layer after layer of paint, each separated – and held in place – by a single thin layer of resin.
Riusuke Fukahori: The Painted Breath
Joshua Liner, New York
11.21.13 – 01.18.14
If you want to learn more about the artist, this is what we wrote when we covered his work last year:
The goldfish holds a very special place in the heart of any child who’s ever been to a matsuri (street festival) in Japan. Kingyo-sukui is the game of “goldfish scooping” and is a staple of any summer street festival, along with the masks, water balloon yo-yos, fireworks and yummy food.
But for artist Riusuke Fukahori, the goldfish was not just a relic of long-lost childhood. As he painfully lay in his room one night, struggling and suffering, about to give up on his art, he looked over and saw a goldfish. His neglected fish of 7 years sputtered about in a cesspool of mold and feces – a common fate endured by most festival souvenirs.
Fukahori felt a shiver run down his spine. What he suddenly saw was a beautiful animal, glowing in bright red, living and surviving. The artist pulled out his paint and set to work, immediately triggering some sort of chemical reaction in his brain. Fukahori had looked far and wide – in Europe, the U.S. and Japan – for his muse. But in an instantaneous form of enlightenment he knew that all along it was right there in his room, inside that dirty fish tank. The goldfish, writes Fukahori, was my salvation.
source: press release
November 20, 2013 1 Comment
Continuing on with picks for this season’s NY gallery openings is Shinichi Maruyama (previously), who photographs nudes like you’ve never seen them before. The Japanese artist, who is showing at Bruce Silverstein, points his camera at nude dancers, capturing thousands of individual frames. Each frame is then layered on top of one another, creating a sculptural composite image “that contradict the notion of a photograph as a single moment of stopped time.”
The inspiration comes from Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (1912). “I tried to capture the beauty of both the human body’s figure and its motion,” says Maruyama. “By putting together uninterrupted individual moments, the resulting image as a whole will appear to be something different from what actually exists.”
Shinichi Maruyama: Nudes
Bruce Silverstein, New York
11.07.13 – 12.21.13
(special performance by choreographer Jessica Lang on Thursday Nov. 21, 7PM)
November 20, 2013 2 Comments
Today we’re going to be rounding up a few picks of Japanese artists showing in New York this fall season. Our first pick is Yayoi Kusama, who recently joined David Zwirner Gallery and is now really rubbing it in to her ex-gallerist Gagosian. In what is promising to be the next Rain Room (ie: long lines and obligatory instagram selfies) eccentric artist Yayoi Kusama is showcasing a monumental body of new and recent work. Headlining the show “I Who Have Arrived In Heaven” is Kusama’s immersive mirrored infinity room, which features a surrealistic dark room of mirrors, LED lights and water. As of now we’re hearing that the wait to get in is 2 hours and there is a time limit of 40 seconds to spend in the room.
Yayoi Kusama: I who have arrived in heaven
David Zwirner, New York
11.08.2013 – 12.21.2013
Also on display are Kusama’s colorful dot sculptures and paintings.
November 20, 2013 2 Comments
Kansai-based crafter Matsuko Matsui creates small, delicate accessories from materials like wood, metal and glass. Among her many creations, which she catalogs on her blog, my favorite are these rings inspired by tori, a traditional Japanese gate often found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine. They can be found all across Japan symbolically delineating between sacred and non-sacred land.
“What I’d really like,” Matsui writes jokingly on her blog, “is for people to buy multiples and turn their finger into a Kyoto tori tunnel.” She is undoubtedly referring to something you would see at Fushimi Inari Taisha.
You can check out our other jewelry-themed posts right here!
November 19, 2013 1 Comment