Junichi Arai’s retrospective exhibition at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery presents 60 years of his work as an experimental textile designer. Perhaps most well-known for his collaboration with fashion icon Issey Miyake, Arai’s work is Avant-garde yet stunning.
Multi-colored metallic fabrics are suspended and lit so that they seem to be moving like flames or bursting volcanoes. Major works are suspended from the ceiling and visitors are encouraged to meander through and inspect them at all angles. As I snaked my way through the shimmering fabrics I noticed I could see other visitors but they couldn’t see me, like a gold plated one-way mirror.
The exhibition also presents videos of Arai explaining his methodologies, which combine handcraft weaving and dying techniques with cutting-edge technology. Some of the most interesting pieces were the shibori style textiles where the metallic-coated threads were melted and removed in some parts of the cloth to leave behind sheer, metal-tinged translucent surfaces.
Arai continues to work and experiment with new technologies, and constructed new pieces specifically for this show. I actually caught a glimpse of him while visiting the exhibition and though he is small in stature, he has plenty to say. The exhibition ARAI Junichi: Tradition and Creation closes this Sunday, March 24th. Click here for videos of the exhibition and Arai’s own description of his work (in Japanese).