Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko “bonsai extension” at the ICN gallery

June has been a busy month and I’m afraid I didn’t get the chance to write about this wonderful exhibition at the ICN gallery in London until now, and today was the last day of the exhibition. The ICN always has interesting exhibitions by Japanese artists, and this was no exception.

June’s exhibition, Hiroko Masuko “bonsai extension”, was a collection of pen and ink drawings depicting bonsai trees in minute detail. The images were quite captivating, and I felt I could almost get lost in them.

Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko "bonsai extension" at the ICN gallery

Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko "bonsai extension" at the ICN gallery

Hiroko Masuko, from Miyagi in the Tohoku region of Japan, explores the intricacies of the bonsai, whilst also creating something quite unique and magical. Although the images are clearly bonsai, one could almost imagine some kind of creature emerging from the roots.

Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko "bonsai extension" at the ICN gallery

Here is a statement from the artist:

Bonsai is a unique Japanese culture that depicts natural scenery in a microcosmic way by planting trees in a pot. By using bowls and wires, trees’ growth is artificially restricted, by which the direction of branches’ growth and the growth speed are manipulated as the producer intends and, thus, the shape along the sense of beauty that each individual wants to express is aimed. Symbolic motif such as “Bonsai”. In its production process, I find artistic expression by human hands and beautiful harmony of nature itself and am attracted to them. 

My paintings begin with drawing (of my images from surrounding scenery and culture), which I call “the seed of the picture”. This “seed of the picture” is equivalent to the young tree in bonsai and develops in a constraint of picture plane (or pot). There appears the contrast between the artistic activity that imitates bonsai’s shape and the natural beauty. In order to highlight the contradistinction of these images, I use simple expression method such as white and black, same lines by pen.

Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko "bonsai extension" at the ICN gallery

Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko "bonsai extension" at the ICN gallery

Hiroko Masako still lives in Tohoku, now in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. Miyako was severely damaged by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and yet the artist chooses to stay there. She says:

“There were towns that vanished instantly by the earthquake disaster. There are towns that quietly vanish as time goes by or because of the rains and winds. New wind is storming there. Like a one-eyed ghost, it is gazing at us. I gazed back at it.”

Hiroko is inspired by the local culture of the town in which she lives, and is interested in the whole Tohoku region. She says she often gets inspired by the scenery, people in town, and local customs.

Exhibition: Hiroko Masuko "bonsai extension" at the ICN gallery

I’d like to see more of Hiroko’s work, and hope she gains the popularity she deserves.

Unfortunately this exhibition has now finished, but there will soon be a new exhibition opening  at the ICN gallery. Here’s some more information:

Saya Irie ”Every popular thing is beautiful”, 25th July – 10th August

It was indeed Andy Warhol who said that “Everything is beautiful. Pop is everything.” However, in market economy, the more popular it is, the more demand there is, and ultimately the more expensive it will be. Historical figures, have been depicted as portraits, and for the purpose of increasing trust and value for currency, they have been selected for the design of paper money and printed on paper money to finally become a part of “beauty”. Saya Irie reversed this process by attempting to make portraits which are a symbol of beauty back to its three-dimensional form. It may be possible that the elaborately completed works value more than the original bills as art works.

Saya Irie

Image courtesy ICN gallery

For more information, please visit: icn-global.com.

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