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Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007
Eight must-sees as Mori Art embraces 'excess'
Chu Enoki, "RPM-1200" (2005): Chu's work is a standout, a shining metal city made of what look like industrial drill bits, massive screws and saw blades. It's a perfect example of the use of excess in a number of the works in the exhibition to convey the chaos of the present day urban experience.
Etsuko Fukaya's etchings (2003-2007): The only print artist in the exhibition, Fukaya creates dense menageries of animals, plants and individuals that also show this tendency to excess. Their minute, fantastical details invite prolonged viewing.
Nobuyuki Tanaka, "Shape of Lacquer" (2007): Among everything on display, it is possible to miss Tanaka's giant, silently gleaming modern take on traditional Japanese laquerware. But take time to dwell on it. Its stately presence is reminiscent of some of the more dramatic contemporary ceramic works that have appeared in the last 50 years, such as Suehara Fukami's monoliths and Chiho Aono's biomorphic forms.
Yoshio Yoshimura: Yoshimura has been doing intricate, hyper-realistic pencil drawings since the '70s. On one side of a long corridor at the Mori, there is a series of self-portraits from 1988-89, one per day for 12 months. If you look at a vertical row, they appear similar, but once you follow them horizontally, the differences as the year wears on are striking. On the opposite wall, a nearly 20-meter drawing of a chain-link fence hides below reproductions of newspapers (including The Japan Times) meticulously copied from the real thing during the period 1976-79.
Iichiro Tanaka: At the opening, Tanaka said that his pieces were not an installation. But collected at the Mori, they appear to work as one interrelated piece. Following the large rooms that hold Nobuyuki Tanaka's and Yoshimura's works, his small intimate space is a pleasant break.
Sit on the bench on the rug and slowly take in the amusing tableau around you — humorous mobiles hang from above; odd items and videos on the wall; imprints of individual pieces of sashimi dipped in ink and pressed on paper (rather than the whole fish, as is seen in many restaurants — which is ridiculous, who would want to eat them after?) Make sure not to miss the picture book of Tanaka wreaking destruction on Tokyo.
Like Koki Tanaka (who Iichiro once shared an exhibition with titled, appropriately, "Tanakas"), Hiroki Kehara and Kohei Kobayashi, Iichiro Tanaka practices what you might call the School of Doing Things, an update on Mono-ha — the School of Things. Whereas Mono-ha, in putting typically unadulterated objects — a boulder, a steel plate, a log — in a gallery, said "Here are things to be appreciated as they are," these young artists say, "Here are actions that can be done, appreciate them for what they are."
For me, this was the highlight of the exhibition.
Koichiro Tsujikawa: Tsujikawa has three imaginative, stop-action videos playing toward the end of the show. One features objects that dance around one another in an amusing version of what might happen when you are not home. Another video showing here — of spinning figurines and rocks — I first saw in August at the Summer Sonic rock festival, where it was used as the perfect backdrop for a performance of the song "Like A Rolling Stone" by Japanese indie-rocker Cornelius.
Nobuhiro Nakanishi "Layer Drawing/Sunrise" (2007): Nakanishi finds a new way to show photography by lining up a series of slides to create layered images. Large transparent shots of a sunset snake through the center of a room. Against the wall on bottom-lit stands, meanwhile, are piles of standard slides stacked up to produce cool 3D images built out of shots of real trees, ink smudges and other unrecognizable sources.
Masahiko Sato + Takashi Kiriyama "Arithmatik Garden" (2007): Sato and Kiriyama test your mathematics and your ability to stay calm under pressure by creating an interactive work in which you are given a random number on a card that you hang around your neck, which you have to increase to 73 before you can leave a cordoned-off space. You do this by passing through gates that add, subtract, multiply and divide your original number, while a silicon chip on the card maintains a hidden running tally. Trying to keep your total straight in your head while other visitors watch you wandering around can be nerve-racking.
Once you finally make it out, slip into the art group Enlightenment's room and leave your embarrassment behind as you step onto the flight deck of a space ship. Walk right up to the front of the round screen to get the full effect.