The newest exhibition of up-and-coming visual artist Kyoko Fujiwara has just opened at Yokohama’s Iwasaki Gallery. The Tokyo native has had installations all over Japan as well as overseas. Her latest– Arcadia – is not only a brand new piece but also includes a retrospective of her past work photographed by the talented K. Hayashi. If you have any interest in the work of a talented Tokyo artist, now is the perfect time to come and see something special.
Fujiwara’s signature piece for this exhibition is the aforementioned Arcadia; a stunning steel and glass staircase spiraling up to the ceiling of the main exhibition hall. The overhead lights shine down on the glass steps, which reflect off the finely cut glass on the top and sides of the structure. To construct the 30 or so steps that make up the installation, each piece of steel and glass is cut, finely measured, and put together in a process that often takes months. When walking near, around, inside of the staircase, visitors also begin a journey, though that destination is different for each person. Arcadia is, in Fujiwara’s own words, “A journey to a faraway place, a faraway world different from our own.” How can we reach this far-off place on a staircase of glass? More importantly, what kind of world is that faraway place that Kyoko Fujiwara seeks to take us to?
“I’m interested in opposites, the outside and inside world, things you can see and things that can’t be seen.” Fujiwara typically portrays her world using a combination of glass and steel, a study of opposites. In explaining the appeal of glass, she says, “Glass has a cold and hard image, but it’s very fragile. It’s also shiny, and though transparent, can reflect something back at us. Though we can’t see it, it is there. It is perfect for the world I want to create. I hope people can see the charms of glass while looking at my work.”
This installation is part of a special exhibition. Not only is it a showcase for Fujiwara’s latest work, but also a look back at many of her previous showcases, some of which were shown at the Iwasaki Gallery. “Since working with the Iwasaki Museum, I’ve been able to realize the world I’ve been trying to create. They’ve given me a lot of support; even outside the realm of art, we’ve had a great relationship.” Fujiwara also has a special place in her heart for the staff and artists of Nakanojo Biennale, a rural collection of artists that often work together in a variety of projects. We can see photographs of her latest Nakanojo exhibit, Figment, which is an Escher-like staircase with no clear beginning and end. The play of light and darkness in her pieces gives off a feeling of fear as well as beauty, as the glass, sometimes broken, sometimes whole, twinkles in these carefully constructed shadows. Fujiwara cites Escher as a crucial influence to her work, as well as more recent favorites like Dan Flavin and Gerhard Richter. In her spare time, Fujiwara pursues her love of Japanese literature, such as the works of Yukio Mishima.
Fujiwara has traveled and exhibited in China, Thailand, America and Bulgaria. She was hesitant to pick a favorite place, but talked glowingly about her most recent excursion to Iceland. There she worked in a remote lighthouse approximately 1 hour from the capital city Reykjavik. “It was a beautiful place, like a picture book, and the scenery during the sunset almost had a romantic quality. It is a kind of place where your view on life can change just from going there.” Her work since had been inspired by the cathedrals in Reykjavik. During her travels, Fujiwara has conducted seminars and presentations, always in English, and is eager to connect with the English–speaking audience in Japan as well. “We will be running the exhibition for about a month, so please come see us in Yokohama.” Fujiwara says to Metropolis readers.
Kyoko Fujiwara looks to keep busy in 2018, and she will be an artist-in-residence in Berlin this spring before heading to New York later in the year. The exhibition site, The Iwasaki Museum, is conveniently located in Yokohama, and is only a short walk from the city’s famed Chinatown district. It is a beautiful building that had been the location for the historic Gaiety Theater. The renovated interior still has a theater as well as rooms housing multiple exhibits and a handsome café. Arcadia will run until March 4th, with special collaborations on the following days:
2/10(Sat) – A dance performance by international artist Dominique Baron Bonarjee
2/18(Sun) – A piano recital by Komaba Takuya
2/25(Sun) – A classical ballet performance by Tanaka Chiaki
3/3(Sat) – A modern dance performance by TABASA