Beauty in All Things: Japanese Art and Design


Keisuke Mizuno, Forbidden Flower (Dark Orange), 2001

  • $15
  • $12
  • Free

In Japan, beauty can be found in objects from the most refined to the most humble, often with standards very different from those in the Western world. Drawn largely from the MAD collection, Beauty in All Things features contemporary Japanese artists and designers who create innovative works within these ideals of beauty. Some push traditional techniques and materials in new directions, and others experiment with new technologies and materials within the context of historical practice.
In this exhibition, specific works are highlighted that exemplify Japanese concepts of beauty, including shizen, wabi sabi and datsuzoku.
The term shizen implies a reverence for the beauty found in nature, a recurring theme in Japanese art. Keisuke Mizuno’s porcelain flowers display the elegance of natural forms, as well as the decay that hides within. Goto Osamu’s basket makes only abstract reference to the flower, but celebrates the roughness and irregularity of the natural materials.
Wabi sabi is a Japanese term that connotes an appreciation for the passage of time as manifest in objects that show their age: worn and irregular surfaces, even chips and cracks. Shoko Koike’s ceramic piece demonstrates wabi sabi both in its dynamic form, and its irregular glaze pattern. Hideho Tanaka has burnt his vessel to bring out the beauty of the underlying structure.
Datsuzoku suggests a feeling of surprise, or of fresh creativity. The Nendo design firm certainly demonstrates this in their chairs, which range in form from solid rolls of paper sliced and folded to form a seat to chairs that seem to defy gravity in their minimal shapes. Harumi Nakashima’s Struggling Form, a bubbly, undulating stoneware sculpture covered in a pattern of multi-sized blue dots, makes humorous allusion to the artist’s interest in Pop Art and anime.

Museum of Arts and Design

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