Monday, May 15, 2006

Art Review- MOT Tokyo- Exhibit of the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain

This was the last art exhibit I saw before leaving Japan, and it was a great note to finish my tour on. The show contained works by well-recognized artists as well as current darling students. It was a large selection, sprawling around two floors and a courtyard. And unlike most of the exhibits in Japan, where light is kept low to prevent damage to the works, it was lit in the same bright manner as the Fondation’s home in Paris. I was permitted to get very close to several of the works, also a welcome change from other shows I’d seen in Japan. The works were arranged so as to not direct the viewer into finding a theme, but to force them to examine each piece individually.

The first piece you see upon entering is the bead-covered “Backyard” by Liza Lou. Here is reconstructed, to scale, a typical suburban American summer scene. Replete with lawn mower, barbecue, food-laden picnic table, clothesline, tree and flowers, it glistens in its own sunlight. While the shimmering eye-candy of the beads meshes well with the pop-culture imagery, it is the attention to detail that makes this piece work. My only distraction from the believability of this shiny utopia was the over-stylization of the flowers.

The viewer then walks around and into several large sculptures, including blown glass and bead constructions by Jean-Michel Othoniel, which displayed more skill in their assembly than in the techniques of glassblowing utilized. I’m not sure if the artist himself is also the gaffer. The little chapel by Alessandro Mendini (and his chair at the entrance to the exhibit) were at once too obvious and too obscure. Too much art theory or something. The bronze-and-porcelain orange trees by Marc Couturier were not quite visually interesting enough to survive without their explanation card.

Turning the corner one runs smack into the enormous “In Bed” by Ron Mueck. This ultra-realistic giant portrait of a woman lost in her own melancholy thoughts was very powerful. First one is amazed by the realism of the reproduction; the large scale makes this minute detail, impeccably rendered, extremely unnerving. And in examining the details, one finally comes to the eyes, where it is always the most difficult to achieve that believability. Then, the viewer becomes fully absorbed with empathy for the musing woman, as the eyes are found to hold the same life-like quality as the rest of the figure. This piece was certainly a crowd favorite.

Continuing upstairs, you pass by two paintings from up-and-coming student Erina Matsui. They are well-painted and amusing, but she needs to lose the accoutrements (one has an object attached to the canvas, the other a plate of plastic food placed in front of the work) or better integrate them with the works. They are amateurish and unnecessary as they are.

Next is the maze of Tony Oursler eyeball projections. Regardless of what one thinks about his work, it’s still pretty disconcerting walking through a field of giant video eyeballs. This serves as an introduction to the exhibit’s plethora of video, animation, film and slide shows. One which stood out was the very touching slideshow “Cui Cui” by Rinko Kawauchi. Cui cui is the Japanese onomatopoeia for sparrows chirping, and the work consisted of a similar noise played while viewing slides relating to daily family life. The photographs were beautiful and the overall effect was sweet without being too sentimental. The 8-screen display by Raymond Depardon took a “slice of life” approach to transportation hubs around the world in various cultures.
But my personal favorite was the animation “Stereoscope” by William Kentridge. His work is always composed of many layers of imagery, literally and abstractly. His process allows for layers of drawing residues on the film, and his stories are layers of meaning which intrigue and provoke.

Alain Séchas adds a touch of humor to the show with his two sculptures, one a cartoonish man with a very large head, the other a group of skeletons painting portraits all titled “Dad.” The Polaroid installation by Daido Moriyama gives a different take on seeing into the artist’s studio.
Before leaving the show, you finally meet the piece which had tantalized you from upstairs as you walked past. The tendril of live plant and all kind of everyday objects led downstairs to the bulk of Sarah Sze’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” This sprawling work conjures up images of nature, organic growth and seasons. Made from bent aluminum ladders, Ziploc containers, soil, cotton balls, paintbrushes, etc., it invites the viewer to a close examination, which I surprisingly was permitted. This sums up the way this show was presented. The art spoke for itself, and was displayed in such a way as to give the audience the best type of experience possible for each piece. From what I understand of the goals of the Fondation Cartier, they should be proud of this exhibit.



Post a Comment

<< Home