Textile artist Toru Ishii makes a traditional art relevant to the this modern age
The latest exhibition organised by the Daiwa Foundation at London’s Japan House, presents until July 15, 2014, “Delirious Metropolis” by textile artist Toru Ishii.
Toru Ishii who received in 2014, a Ph.D. in Textile Arts from Tokyo University of the Arts, has exhibited his award winning work both in Japan and overseas. The ten textile pieces he presents to the London public are striking. Displayed in two separate rooms, they explore two different aesthetics. The figurative work entitled “Salarymen,” is extremely detailed and colourful, while the abstract pieces of “After-image,” are dark and deceptively minimalistic.
The show notes explain: “Toru Ishii’s first solo exhibition in the UK aims to achieve a hybrid of expression in elements such as the past and present and the digital and analogue.” While the hybrid, or shall we say the contrast, between digital and analogue is made evident in the organisation of the two rooms; the hybrid of expression in past and present is less evident.
Like the images of Gozo Yoshimasu presented in “As Though Tattooing on My Mind,” the work of Toru Ishii must be understood in the context of Japan following the March 2011 Tsunami catastrophy. The “Salarymen” images are a social critic of today’s capitalist society. They represent “office workers” graphically at war with each other. “After-image” gathers abstract images derived from pictures shown in the media: fragmented digital images of incidents and accidents occurring in a modern city.
The hybridisation of past and present resides in the technique used by Ishii to create the display. He used a traditional Japanese dying technique, called Itome, to create his iconography of modern society.
This technique also known as Itome (white thread) Yuzen, because it leaves a white line around the patterns once the dying has been completed. It may have taken its name from Yuzensai Miyazaki, the fan painter believed to have developed it at the end of the 17th century. This technique was traditionally used to create decorative motives on kimonos, using a white fabric as base, usually silk.
The patterns are drawn in ink and then covered with rice paste, which acts as masking tape, marking the borders of the pattern. The parts to be painted are covered with dye, worked in with a brush, and then steamed to fix the colour. The result is incredibly precise.
You can find out more about this technique in a a paper by Yuko Fukatsu-Fukuoka: “The Evolution of Yuzen-dyeing Techniques and Designs after the Meiji Restoration.” Or, even better, attend the talk at the Daiwa Foundation Japan House on June 17, 2014 by Toru Ishii and Professor Lesley Millar MBE (Director of the Anglo-Japanese Textile Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts)- contact the Daiwa Foundation to book.
Delirious Metropolis by Toru Ishii
20 May – 15 July 2014,
Free Admission, Monday – Friday, 9:30am-5:00pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House
13/14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle)
London NW1 4QP6