Art in the Sankeien Garden

art, recent work, time-out

Hanging in the garden; photo credit Toshiko Watanabe

After some nerve-racking delay (due to the Swedish postal service), the transport box finally arrived in Yokohama – just a few days before the opening. Back home, I could draw a sigh of relief as our colleagues from EAJAS took over

They, in turn, were now heading for another intense work phase; nineteen Japanese artists, and sixteen Swedish, have been selected for the group show. The curating and hanging of artworks by 30+ artists in this historic site is no little task! As expected, our Japanese friends took excellent care of it all. Art in the Garden – Contemporary Art from Sweden, part III opened on April 28th in the Sankeien Garden of Yokohama.


Gray I, Blue I on display in Sankeien Garden, Yokohama; photo credit Toshiko Watanabe

From the other side of the globe, we’re truly grateful for this photo documentation of the hanging process and results; it almost makes up for not being able to visit. Come stroll along with us in the garden…

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sky, soil, silk VII: conclusion

art, recent work

This. This is what the material tells me: it wants the circle. To mirror the horizon, the sky, the full moon…

Just go for it. Communicate with the curators from EAJAS. Create a frame design from plastic tubes. Get polyester strings for mounting. Steel weights for anchoring. Cut and sew fabric – many hours of handcrafted trial-and-error. One blue piece, one gray – then another two… Duplicates, in case of loss or damage.

Meanwhile, winter dissolves into spring. The exhibition’s opening date is getting closer. I’ll need a big, sturdy box for transportation… So many practicalities to consider. Luckily, there is help. And in the end, it all works out.

On Maundy Thursday, I bring two of the pieces to a lakeshore nearby for documenting.

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Then, one more day for disassembling, for marking each single part and packing properly. Easter holiday passes, and finally we can hand the transport box over to the postal service. And – off they are. Next stop: Yokohama!

sky, soil, silk V: transparency

art, recent work

…to cross the threshold that separates the image from “real life”…

According to legend, seventh-century master Wu Daozi (Wu Tao-Tzu) did just that. The emperor contracted him to paint a landscape on a wall in the imperial palace. Having finished his painting, Wu Daozi clapped his hands; upon which an opening occurred, leading into a mountain cave in the picture. The master entered, the cave closed behind him and the whole painting disappeared.

Sadly, most of Wu’s works has vanished just like that mythic mural. Today, his œuvre is known to us largely through the well-established practice of copying in Chinese art; a double act of learning and recognition.

a-chinese-silk-painting-after-wu-daozi-1819th-c-1Chinese silk painting, 18th or 19th century copy after a lost original by Wu Daozi
(photo by Rob Michiels Auctions)

Another liminal figure is Tove Jansson‘s Moominmamma; mother, artist, and crosser of boundaries. In Jansson’s novel Moominpappa at Sea, Moominmamma finds herself yearning for home, while staying with her family in a lighthouse on a desolate, faraway islet. With some leftover paint, she brings her beloved garden to life on the wall…

Muminmamma 1

Tove Jansson, text and drawing from her novel Moominpappa at Sea (1965);
also the finishing vignette below.

Having spent hours roaming imaginary landscapes, my mind resonates deeply with tales like these. In my current commission, however, I hope to achieve something else: rather than enticing the public into the picture, I’ll invite the image to communicate directly with its surroundings, with our living bodies and with light itself.

Transparency is the key.

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Transparency is the key, and thin silk has a unique set of qualities: as a canvas, it absorbs the paint/dye; at the same time, it frames the background like a tarnished mirror; and in sharp daylight, it can even create a space of coloured light on the shadowed side – much like a stained glass window.

I’m deeply grateful to the EAJAS (Emerging Art from Japan and Around Scandinavia) organization, for this opportunity to develop the transparency theme a bit further. But for now, I’ll take a little break.

Muminmamma 2