‘50/50’ aims to show the work of two individuals working in parallel yet independently on a theme. The work on initial viewing may appear to have little in common, however their work shares a language that involves the repetitive construction of whole complex images from pieces of cloth, paper and reclaimed ceramic. The process of fragmenting materials, its reconstruction and echoed imagery is their common ground.
The show, derived from a research trip to Japan, is in two halves. Whilst Harris’s cloth works are abstract compositions that breathe into the space leaving the viewer time for contemplation, Mussi’s figurative mosaics represent the mad chaos, modern production and contemporary imagery. (Words courtesy of Contemporary Applied Arts)
When I stopped by the exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts, I was most taken with Cleo Mussi’s work. Her wall-mounted mosaic panels feature images inspired by kokeshi dolls and Japanese street fashion, contrasting traditional Japan with modern Japanese culture. There is also a “kawaii” element to her work, in pieces which feature cute animals, such as those below.
I don’t have a picture of my absolute favourite pieces, so I’ll attempt to describe them. At first I thought I was just looking at mosaics, but then I realised that the flowers represented sushi rolls, and I was actually looking at tiny bento boxes made from broken shards of crockery. That’s the kind of art I would buy if I could!
’50/50′ is an interesting exhibition with a real feeling of “Japan”, which comes partly from the research materials and sketches on display in the middle of the gallery space. Seeing an old kokeshi doll alongside Cleo Mussi’s colourful mosaics, you can really see where the inspiration comes from.
The theme of the exhibition comes from Mussi and Harris’s recent trip to Japan, in which they explored the temples and gardens of Kyoto, as well as the art galleries and architecture of Tokyo, and the countryside of Kyushu. Their work is very different, and I felt that Mussi’s work dominated the exhibition (but for me that was a good thing).
’50/50′ is on at Contemporary Applied Arts, 2 Percy Street, London W1T 1DD until 14th April 2012. For more information, please visit their website.
All images © Matthew Harris/Cleo Mussi.