• Adoring Adornment

    Date posted: May 5, 2010 Author: jolanta
    Although the word “ornament” is one of most important keywords of Postmodernism, it seems only a few critics or art historians in the field of contemporary art have tried to find new meanings for this word. Lately, however, there are some tendencies that can only be described as nothing but “ornament” in Japanese contemporary art. First, a work that designates ornament itself as the motif is to be conspicuous in the field of painting and graphic art. Atsuo Ogawa drew a complicated whorl with a single stroke, and he engraved beautiful images on six 60-centimeter square translucent soap blocks for this exhibition. The artist knows that translucent soaps are very fragile and its nature changes easily. But he spent three months in producing this work, because the works are a metaphor for time.

    Akio Seki

    Junichi Mori, Minawa, 2009. Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.


    Although the word “ornament” is one of most important keywords of Postmodernism, it seems only a few critics or art historians in the field of contemporary art have tried to find new meanings for this word. Lately, however, there are some tendencies that can only be described as nothing but “ornament” in Japanese contemporary art.

    First, a work that designates ornament itself as the motif is to be conspicuous in the field of painting and graphic art. Atsuo Ogawa drew a complicated whorl with a single stroke, and he engraved beautiful images on six 60-centimeter square translucent soap blocks for this exhibition. The artist knows that translucent soaps are very fragile and its nature changes easily. But he spent three months in producing this work, because the works are a metaphor for time.

    Some upcoming artists who studied at Tokyo University of the Arts have a very interesting approach to sculpture. The main concern for the Japanese sculptor in the 70s and the 80s was material and its texture. But this does not concern sculptors of the new generation, who are only attached to the surface of their works. Junichi Mori is the most extreme artist of the group. He makes two-dimensional images such as sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, three-dimensional, and he carves everything except the surface. There are no massiveness or volume in his works; the only element that remains is the movement.

    A lot of Western historical-style decorations can be easily found in Japanese daily life. But the cultural sense has vanished. Katsuyo Aoki always felt a sense of incongruity with this situation, and started her ceramic work in an excessive decorative style. The decorations of her works symbolize the border of spirit and body.

    This exhibition introduces ten Japanese artists aged between 20s and 40s. They are not mainstream artists, but they are not to be ignored. Although there are no common styles or techniques in their works, they do share a common interest. Seeing their works, we recall that “ornament” is one of the fundamental elements in visual arts, and is something that questions time and space, and the existence of human being dating back to ancient times.

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