Kyoto: Light Festival at Tadasu no Mori and Shimogamo-jinja

Resonating Spheres at Shimogamo-jinja (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres at Shimogamo-jinja (photo by longzijun)

While visiting Kyoto during the summer, I went to see the magically whimsical light installation put together by teamLab at Tadasu no Mori and Shimogamo Shrine that took place during the last two weeks of August.

To see the whole gallery of 51 photos (at a resolution of 2048 x 1365), go to my Flickr gallery: Resonating Spheres & Resonating Trees.

Resonating Trees

Resonating Trees in Tadasu no Mori (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Trees in Tadasu no Mori (photo by longzijun)

In Tadasu No Mori (Forest of Correction), the trees along the forest path leading to Shimogamo Shrine were lit up in an installation called Resonating Trees. Each tree was lit independently and had a hidden speaker nearby that emitted musical tones that corresponded to the changing colors. The colors (and their corresponding musical tones) changed according to the presence and movement of people. The color of light shining on an individual tree could also radiate out to affect other trees, which would begin to resonate with the same color and musical tone. You can see his effect in the video by teamLab:

When I was there, however, the effect was very different. As there were a lot of people there at the event’s opening, the lights and tones were changing rapidly, as in the following video:

Trees Illuminated in Tadasu no Mori (The Forest of Correction), Kyoto
Trees Illuminated in Tadasu no Mori (The Forest of Correction), Kyoto
Resonating Tress by teamlab  (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Tress by teamlab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Trees opening night (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Trees opening night (photo by longzijun)

Resonating Spheres

Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)

The courtyard at Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社) was filled with large glowing floating spheres. These spheres would change color (and musical tone) when touched by people. As in the forest installation, the colors of an individual sphere could radiate out and cause other spheres nearby to resonate with the same color and give off the same musical tone. If thre was a sphere left unattended, it was almost impossible to resist the urge to reach out and touch it.

Boy and Sphere (photo by longzijun)
Boy and Sphere (photo by longzijun)
Blue spheres in resonance with one another  (photo by longzijun)
Blue spheres in resonance with one another (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab) (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab) (photo by longzijun)
Girls with a blue sphere:   (photo by longzijun)
Girls with a blue sphere: (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab  (photo by longzijun)
Resonating Spheres by teamLab (photo by longzijun)

The Installation’s Aim

According to teamLab, the aim of the installation was to change relationships among people by making the presence of other people a positive experience. As people walk through the forest path and into the courtyard of the shrine, their presence and movement cause the colors and musical tones around them to change. Thus, a stranger walking by is no longer someone to ignore or be annoyed with; he/she becomes a co-conspirator in a shared artistic experience.

The positive nature of human contact is also presented through the idea of resonance. Like the manner in which the light color and musical tone emanating from a tree or sphere can influence the lights and sounds around them, our own moods can influence (and be influenced by) those around us and radiate outwards, ‘infecting’ more and more people.

Setting the light installation in a sacred forest and an important Shinto shrine also draws the visitors’ attention to their relationship with nature, tradition and spirituality.

Obon

The light festival at Shimogamo-jinja and Tadasu no Mori (糺の森) opened during Obon, the annual festival in which Japanese honor the spirits of their ancestors. Activities related to this festival often revolve around lanterns, which are floated down rivers or across ponds or are attached to graves. These lanterns are intended to guide the spirits back to their homes. Could the glowing spheres of this installation also serve as a more modern representation of the traditional Obon lanterns?

teamLab

According to teamLab’s website,

“teamLab is a collective, interdisciplinary creative group that brings together professionals from various fields of practice in the digital society: artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects, web and print graphic designers and editors. Referring to themselves as “Ultra-technologists,” their aim is to achieve a balance between art, science, technology and creativity.” (www.team-lab.net/)

Kamo-jinja

Comprised of Shimogamo Shrine (www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/english.html) and the surrounding sacred grove of Tadasu No Mori, Kamo-jinja is a Shinto sanctuary complex that is said to protect Kyoto from malign influences. It is situated in northeast Kyoto within the delta of two rivers: Takano-gawa and Kamo-gawa.

Towards the end of the evening, the moon came out to play (photo by longzijun))
Towards the end of the evening, the moon came out to play (photo by longzijun))
The Tori at Shimogamo-jinja
The Tori at Shimogamo-jinja

More about the Installation

Official Website: light-festival.team-lab.net/en/


~by (longzijun)

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Asian Beauty: Portraits by Yu Kawashima, Nugroho Wijayatmo, Zhang Xiangming, Li Guijun, Phuong Quoc Tri & Kwok Wan-hei

Fantasise (2016, detail view) by Nugroho Wijayatmo
Fantasise (2016, Detail view, Acrylic on canvas) by Nugroho Wijayatmo (Affinity for Art, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

The paintings on this page, created by artists from Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong, exemplify different ways of expressing female beauty. Many of the paintings tie tradition—whether it is in the use of traditional materials and techniques, depictions of traditional hair styles and clothing or references to traditional ways of representing women in art—to more modern sensibilities.

– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version (2048 x 1365) on Flickr –

Yu Kawashima (川島優展), Japan

Déjà Vu by Yu Kawashima
Déjà Vu by Yu Kawashima (Whitestone Gallery, Art Central Hong Kong 2016)

With their large eyes, light irises, pale complexion, delicate features, thin eyebrows, wavy hair and long bangs, the twins in Yu Kawashima’s Deja Vu present an ethereal, modern and highly stylized version of beauty. Their dainty beauty is well-suited to the artist’s ‘soft’ painting style. Yu Kawashima’s artwork extends from Nihonga—Japanese painting using traditional conventions, techniques and materials (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihonga)—but embraces the more modern style of his subjects. He uses ink and traditional pigments on Japanese paper (View the artist’s page at Whitestone Gallery: whitestone.hk/artists/d/?id=23).

Déjà Vu (detail view) by Yu Kawashima (Art Basel Hong Kong, 2016)
Déjà Vu (detail view) by Yu Kawashima

 

Nugroho Wijayatmo, Indonesia

Oriental No. 8 (2015) by Nugroho Wijayatmo
Oriental No. 8 (2015, Acrylic on canvas) by Nugroho Wijayatmo (Affinity for Art, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong 2016)

The women in these two portraits by Nugroho Wijayama have a contemporary high-fashion look, as if they had just stepped out of the pages of a glossy magazine. Overlaid over the portraits are gold outlines of women as they were depicted in Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints—full faces, tiny features and elaborate hairstyles full of pins and combs (You can read the article The Representation of Women in Edo Period Nikuhitsu Ukiyo-e Paintings for more information and examples). The modern women in Nugroho Wijayama’s acrylic on canvas paintings— with their casual hairstyles and bare shoulders—certainly appear less constrained than their Edo-era counterparts, but women nowadays still face subtle pressure to meet what can be very selective standards of beauty (See the artist’s page at the Affinity for Art website: www.affinityforart.com/wijayatmo-nugroho).

Fantasise (2016) by Nugroho Wijayatmo
Fantasise (2016, Acrylic on canvas) by Nugroho Wijayatmo (Affinity for Art, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

 

Li Guijin (李貴君), China

Like This (2017, Oil on canvas) by Li Guijun (Line Art, Art Central, Hong Kong, 2017)

Beijing-based artist Li Guijin specializes in painting adolescent girls, idealistically focusing on the purity and simplicity of this transitional period between childhood and adulthood. The girls in his painting are relaxed and elegantly posed and and appear to living in a kind of self-contained dreamlike world, untroubled by the harsh realities of the world. In his paintings, Li focuses on composition and technique and pays a great deal of attention to skin tones, using “a finely rendered mix of brown, red, blue, green, turquoise blue and white tones inspired by the artist Rembrandt” (Artist’s page at Schoeni Art Gallery).

Rain Alley (2017, Oil on canvas) by Li Guijun (Line Art, Art Central, Hong Kong, 2017)

Rain Alley: Detail (2017, Oil on canvas) by Li Guijun (Line Art, Art Central, Hong Kong, 2017)

 

Zhang Xiangming (張向明), China

Beijing Girl 2016 No. 1 by Zhang Xiangming
Beijing Girl 2016 No. 1 (Oil on canvas) by Zhang Xiangming (Soemo Fine Arts, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

The subjects in these two oil paintings have a very ambiguous kind of beauty. Are they girls, teens or young women? In the oil on canvas painting above, is the purplish area around one eye a hint of a bruise or simply the result of inexpertly applied makeup? There is a kind of strength and resolve in the subjects’ expressions, but also a kind of vulnerability and innocence (See the artist’s page at the Soemo Fine Arts website: www.soemo-fine-arts.com/artist?id=866).
.

Beijing Girl 2015-09-02 by Zhang Xiangming
Beijing Girl 2015-09-02 (Oil on canvas) by Zhang Xiangming (Soemo Fine Arts, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

 

Phuong Quoc Tri, Vietnam

Portrait by Phuong Quoc Tri
Portrait (Oil on canvas) mby Phuong Quoc Tri (ArtBlue Studio, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

Self-taught Vietnamese artist Phoung Quoc Tri focuses on figurative painting with women being a favorite subject. His portraits tend to have a soft and warm feel and the women in his paintings often appear to be in a wistful, reflective mood (See the artist’s page at ArtBlue Studio: artbluestudio.com/phuong-quoc-tri).

Portrait by Phuong Quoc Tri
Portrait (Oil on canvas) by Phuong Quoc Tri (ArtBlue Studio, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

 

Kwok Wan-hei, Hong Hong

Insularity by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio
Insularity (2015, Acrylic on canvas) by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio (Wi1 Wang4 Wang4 exhibition, Hong Kong 2015)

Kwok Wan-hei’s painting, Insularity, was shown at an exhibition of Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Featured in the article Where do the New Batch of CUHK Fine Arts Graduates from here?). A main theme of the work is the coexistence of loneliness and sociability.

Insularity (detail view) by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio
Insularity (2015, Detail view, Acrylic on canvas) by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio (Wi1 Wang4 Wang4 exhibition, Hong Kong 2015)

Interestingly, she portrays the young women using a style that seems to be a cross between her subjects’ modern sensibilities and the Edo-era Japanese way of depicting women that was also referenced in Nugroho Wijayatmo’s paintings—with full white faces (but not quite so full, not quite so white), tiny red lips (but not quite so tiny, not quite so red), calm expressions, and small (but not quite so small) eyes.
 


In the portraits by these five artists, there is a sense of tradition and an emphasis on femininity, but the subjects in the paintings also embody elements of modernity. The portraits present a form of beauty that is delicate yet strong, a beauty that looks gently back to the past yet confidently embraces the present.


~by (longzijun)

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The Other Side of Innocence: Paintings by Chisato Tanaka, Mayuka Yamamoto & Duan Jianwei

What Remains at the End of the World (detail view) by Chisato Tanaka
Artist: Chisato Tanaka; Title: What Remains at the End of the World (detail view); Oil and acrylic on canvas; Art Central (Kobayashi Gallery). Photo by longzijun.

Looking back, adults tend to view childhood as a time of joy and innocence, and we can forget that it can also be a time of uncertainty, doubt, fear and vulnerability. The artwork on this page captures this ambivalent nature of childhood.

Mayuka Yamamoto (山本麻友香)

– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version (2048 x 1365) on Flickr –

Monster Hand (2013) by Mayuka Yamamoto;
Artist: Mayuka Yamamoto; Title: Monster Hand 2013; Oil on canvas; Affordable Art Fair (Art Projects Gallery). Photo by longzijun.

Japanese artist Mayuka Yamamoto often paints portraits of young boys with calm, serious and emotionally ambiguous expressions. In many of her paintings, the boys wear animal costumes or sport animal features such as antlers or rabbit ears. In Monster Hand, a small and thin boy, dressed in red shorts and a pale blue flowery tank top, sports a reptilian arm. It is not clear whether this monster arm is a costume or his actual arm. Is he merely playing make-believe, pretending to have a power that belies his tender appearance, or is the danger and wildness represented by the monster arm an inherent and irremovable part of him? You can see more of Mayuka Yamamoto’s work at the websites Widewalls and Canvas Art.

Chisato Tanaka (田中千智, たなかちさと)

Lying Child (2015) by Chisato Tanaka
Artist: Chisato Tanaka; Title: Lying Child (2015); Oil and acrylic on canvas; Art Central (Kobayashi Gallery). Photo by longzijun.
Lying Child (2015) by Chisato Tanaka
Artist: Chisato Tanaka; Title: Lying Child (detail view); Oil and acrylic on canvas; Art Central (Kobayashi Gallery). Photo by longzijun.

Chisato Tanaka’s paintings also feature children with serious and emotionally ambiguous expressions. In her painting Lying Child, a lone adolescent girl glances sideways as she trudges across a barren landscape of white snow and black sky. The child’s gender is ambiguous, but looks to be female. She wears, or is covered by, a grinning white wolf. With her red boots and colorful sweater and with the wolf atop her head, she looks like something out of a fairy tale. Her figure is slight and she slouches as she walks, perhaps burdened by the weight of the wolf. The wolf can represent the lie of the title—a kind of mask worn to trick others. A lie (even to oneself) can be a form of protection, but at the same time it can be a burden.

The dark sky and white ground are characteristic of Chisato Tanaka’s work. In her artist’s statement she writes:

Earth is shrouded by space, night is shrouded in darkness. My works are always shrouded in blackness, yet they are not just expressions of the night, but express the state of mind and the circumstances of what is painted. I weave my tales with the kinds of images you find in storybooks, of landscapes, places and other people that we all share memories with, and whom every one of us has memories of…. I reclaim the images, approaching those objects from memory, and draw near to them that way. I am always conscious of the presence of people in whatever landscape I am in. The white earth, the black sky, and the horizon that is the boundary between earth and sky going on and on and on. You can find light in the darkness that you wouldn’t see during the brightness of the day. Ideas and stories keep on being born while people go on to die. Darkness and light are symbols of death and life, endings and beginnings, the various backdrops against which people live their lives, and the thereon after.” (http://dandans.jp/dandans_archive/c_tanaka/statement.html.)

What Remains at the End of the World by Chisato Tanaka
Artist: Chisato Tanaka; Title: What Remains at the End of the World (2016); Oil and acrylic on canvas; Art Central (Kobayashi Gallery). Photo by longzijun.
What Remains at the End of the World (detail view) by Chisato Tanaka
Artist: Chisato Tanaka; Title: What Remains at the End of the World (detail view); Oil and acrylic on canvas; Art Central (Kobayashi Gallery). Photo by longzijun.

The following video shows Chisato Tanaka at work in her studio:

You can find out more about this artist at her website (mainly in Japanese): www.tanakachisato.com

Duan Jianwei (段建伟)

Young Person (2014) by Duan Jianwei;
Artist: Duan Jianwei; Title: Young Person (2014); Oil on canvas; Art Basel Hong Kong (Gallery: Hive Center for Contemporary Art). Photo by longzijun.

In the painting Young Person, a young boy with a solemn expression holds his wrist while staring at something out of the frame. Like Chisato Tanako, Chinese artist Duan Jianwei tends to strip away any detail from the background, drawing the viewer’s attention the the central figure of the painting. It appears that the boy is nursing his wrist, perhaps because he has fallen or perhaps because he has been pulled. As no other visual information is given, it is not clear exactly what is happening. As in the other paintings shown on this page so far, the subjects in Duan Jianwei’s paintings have ambiguous facial expressions—leaving it up to the viewer to consider what emotions the subjects might be feeling.

The Kid by Duan Jianwei;
Artist: Duan Jianwei; Title: The Kid (2012); Oil on canvas; Art Basel Hong Kong (Gallery: Platform China Contemporary Art Institute). Photo by longzijun.

Let’s end the page with a slightly more upbeat painting. At least this girl holding a deep fried dough cake has a hint of a smile on her face.

Deep Fried Dough Cake (2014) by Duan Jianwei;
Artist: Duan Jianwei; Title: Deep Fried Dough Cake (2014); Oil on canvas; Art Basel Hong Kong (Gallery: Hive Center for Contemporary Art). Photo by longzijun.

~by (longzijun)

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