Exhibition: Mai Miyake “Dead Angle” at the ICN gallery

Mai Miyake’s exhibition, Dead Angle, at the ICN gallery in Shoreditch is quite different from anything I’ve seen before. One of the main themes of the exhibition is ‘focal points’, and the artist encourages visitors to consider looking at her work from different angles and in different ways.

The first piece as you enter the gallery is a comment on last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan, featuring the famous character Atom Boy.

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘Power’ by Mai Miyake

As you look at the piece you have to move your head, bend your knees and change the angle of your line of sight in order to see all of the characters in the picture. Miyake’s pieces in this style are made using a combination of layers which include cut paper works and aluminium honeycomb screens, which are actually parts of aeroplanes, behind glass. Rather than “three-dimensions”, she calls this technique “two-and-a-half-dimensions”. Miyake is asking people to look at Japan and the disaster of 2011 from different angles – not just the one presented to them in the media.

There are a number of pieces made in this style around the gallery, and I enjoyed trying to find the best angle to photograph them from. It wasn’t easy!

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘Moving Out’ by Mai Miyake

Miyake hopes that people visiting the gallery will enjoy participating in the exhibition, especially with this piece entitled Scrap and Build 2.

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘Scrap and Build 2’ by Mai Miyake

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘Scrap and Build 2’ by Mai Miyake

In the front of this piece there is a little drawer containing chalk and an eraser, and the artist hopes people will draw and write on the blackboard, making it a continually changing piece of art.

The downstairs part of the exhibition is a whole different, er, bowl of fish though…

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

The room is filled with modern woodcut prints which are all part of a set called The Seven Tales of a Cat. Each picture shows a cat in a different situation, and if you follow the line of sight of the cats, you are taken to the other objects in the room, which are animals. Some are alive, some are dead, and some are fake, but basically the cats are watching the animals.

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘文月 July’ by Mai Miyake

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘長月 September’ by Mai Miyake

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

‘師走 December’ by Mai Miyake

I really like these woodblock prints, and the modern touches sprinkled throughout them, such as this cat with a Starbucks cup:

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

But I’ve got to say I didn’t like the animals at all. I don’t like birds in cages, and the dead rabbit was quite horrible. Although I get the concept of the exhibition, I would have preferred to have just seen the pictures, which are really great in their own right.

Mai Miyake is a self-educated artist, born in Yokohama. As well as being an artist, she is also a writer, and published her first collection of short stories, Oyasuminasai. Yoi Yume Wo (Goodnight. Sweet Dreams) under the name Miyama Kei in 2011.

Mai Miyake "Dead Angle" @ ICN gallery

Mai Miyake

Dead Angle by Mai Miyake is on at the ICN gallery, 96-98 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH until 27th October. There will be a talk by the artist on 25th October at 7pm. For more information about Mai Miyake, please visit the ICN gallery’s website or maimiyake.com.

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