Exhibition Review: “Alive” by Akiko Ban

There’s nothing I’d rather do on a cold, grey bank holiday weekend than catch up with blogs I should have written months ago. So, here’s another exhibition I went to in March…

From 2nd to 24th March, the Bicha Gallery in London held an exhibition called “Alive” by Japanese artist Akiko Ban.

Akiko Ban

The Bicha Gallery in Gabriel’s Wharf is uncomfortably small, and I didn’t feel I was really able to appreciate the work as I felt I was being watched the whole time. The gallery is literally one room, and you can see its entirety from the window without even going in. Thank goodness I didn’t go to the private view – it must have been very crowded! That being said, I did quite like Akiko Ban’s work, and I’m glad I went along to see the exhibition.

Her work – these curious, colourful sculptures – are intriguing and playful. More than anything, I found I had the overwhelming urge to want to squeeze them. I didn’t, but I’m still curious as to what they would feel like. This isn’t the kind of art I would necessarily want to buy and have in my home, but I found the work unique and interesting.

Akiko Ban

Mask installation

The intention of Akiko Ban’s artistic practice is to give life to materials and generate separate entities which exist on their own. Each of her works is the result of a personal ritual and disciplined methodology. A process that has been influenced by the rigorous physical and spiritual training she has experienced as a qualified master of Japanese calligraphy. She uses direct or real time casting as a means of capturing reality. Using liquid and flexible materials such as water, ink, plaster, fabric and rubber, she simultaneously integrates the process of model making, mould making and casting into one singular event.

Akiko Ban


There are aspects of capturing time, concentration, understanding and controlling material within real time casting. Unlike traditional casting, it is process which allows her to take the action and experience of something intangible over a short period of time and transform it into a visible object.

Akiko Ban


Akiko’s work is about her personal mythology – the series of myths which reflect the world that surround her now. The work may be influenced by music she listens to, film she sees, fashion she likes or possibly social matters she experiences. To capture these moments in sculpture, a full understanding of the material is vital. Being honest and direct with the material, brings the mind to total concentration, letting an uplifting inner spirit emerge through the object – when those factors are integrated into the process, it finally generates the best work.

Akiko Ban

Untitled (Stand II)

It is important to work intuitively, as her inner spirit can then be manifested and eventually generated as the object. She calls this work generation process ‘manifestation of entity’ which only happens when her unconsciousness is purely harmonized with the natural phenomena caused by materials. It is ‘mass of life’ which communicates itself on its own terms. The result of the process becomes her work. For Akiko, process and outcome are clearly linked together and inseparable. What she is casting is life.

Akiko Ban

Mask installation (detail)

Akiko Ban has an MFA in Fine Art (Sculpture) from The Slade School of Fine Art and a BA (Hons) Drawing from Camberwell College of Arts. She lives and works in London. For more information about Akiko Ban, please visit her website.

(Text in quote boxes is courtesy of the Bicha Gallery.)

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