These days, globalization may appear to have reduced the influence of local culture on the work of the individual, with the Contemporary Artist seeking a unique language, rather than mastering inherited technique - a trend of dubious benefit, some might claim. With China taking to contemporary market trends like a duck to water, and new geniuses sprouting up faster than K11 can get them in through the backdoor, some might find all this haste a little tasteless.
And so quite refreshing to sidle into an exhibition where conceptual breakthroughs seemed sparse on the ground. As the exhibition co-curator Sugiura remarks, in the contemporary art world there is a certain dependence on visual and conceptual expression, and yet “feeling artworks, through the other senses of smell, hearing, taste and touch can open the art lover to experience a new perspective on art.” Journey of the Senses is also a commentary on intercultural difference within sensory expression. Our sensory organs themselves are conditioned by the local environment in which we live. Particularly so in Asia, so much so as to become an art in itself, olfactory art in Japan and China.
Tatami, olfactic artwork by Maki Ueda
As Sugiura notes, says, sea-surrounded Japan subscribes to the Galapagos phenomenon, that of the archipelago society, which has an important influence on certain characteristics in Japanese art history, and which persists despite so-called technological and human globalization.
The scented artwork Tatami by Maki Ueda is annotated: “Tatami (traditional Japanese carpet and floor woven from rush): New tatami is always preferred because it’s clean and also giving the fresh and comforting smell of rush. However the smell disappears as time goes by. That has become a metaphor for a wife.” Not putting too fine a point on it. Another mesmerizing work, Atsonubo Kohira sculpts in blown glass a sonorous projection.
Text © Maison Bleu Studio, photo credit: Takeshi Sugiura