Japan House at SP-Arte! Japanese cultural space brings works from Japan to the Bienal Pavilion
27 Mar 2017, 10:45 am
As part of the inaugural actions of Japan House São Paulo, SP-Arte/2017 presents a preview of the Japanese government’s new cultural space on Avenida Paulista – combining art, technology and business.
Four galleries from Japan, as well as one from Los Angeles and another from London specializing in Japanese art, will be exhibiting at the event (see list here). As curator of the new space, Marcello Dantas joined the exhibitors participating in SP-Arte and, in this interview, he talks about his experience heading the project and provides an overview of Japanese art today.
SP-Arte: Japan House’s head office on Avenida Paulista is expected to open in May. How will the exhibitions at SP-Arte anticipate what will be shown in the new building?
Marcello Dantas: The first exhibition of Japan House São Paulo will be about Bamboo, a silent protagonist of Japan’s History and Culture, be it in art, in design and in technology. We will then address a wide variety of subjects that will be an entrance door to contemporary Japanese culture.
SP-Arte: Japan’s image is frequently associated to precision and technology, but also delicateness and rural tradition. How do you believe these two sides are expressed in the country’s art today?
MD: In Japan, tradition and innovation walk hand-in-hand. There isn’t a rupture line in Japanese culture, everything is thought of as an evolution of ancestral techniques revisited by the evolution of science, technology and society. Part of Japanese creativity resides in the manner how an artist is close to the production process of his or her work. In Japan, artists have their hands on the artwork while the artwork carries their philosophy accumulated over generations.
SP-Arte: In the 20th century, the cinema of artists like Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa recalled Japan’s millenary culture and portrayed the shock of postwar generations, in a country with a vibrant urban life and growing industrialization. Does the art made in Japan today also carry traits of this ancestry? How?
MD: There are many layers in Japanese culture. Clearly, Tokyo’s urban culture suffered a huge American influence in the postwar, but over the last decades cutting-edge creativity in design, architecture and art is looking to rescue the identity lost in the 1950s and reconnect with Japan’s ancestral values, reinventing itself within the international community. Japan spent many centuries closed to the outside world and the opening up process does not occur without damages and traumas. But, for so many reasons, it is necessary.
SP-Arte: In your opinion, what are the main highlights in Japan House’s space at SP-Arte/2017?
MD: Highlights include Hiroshi Sugimoto and his truly beautiful mathematical model; Kishio Suga with an installation made in Brazil; Yayoi Kusama with a psychedelic pumpkin; and the delicate work of Kohei Nawa, who vitrifies animals. Additionally, Ryoiji Ikeda presents a semi-invisible work that I love, since only those under the age of 40 are able to see it.