Inexhaustible Paper

26.10.2021 - 23.01.2022

Opening: 24.10.2021, 12.00

Exhibition idea and scenario: Joanna Kokoć Exhibition design: Wojciech Luchowski Cooperation: Joanna Haba Art activities: Iva Gobić, Katsuhiro Hata, Grzegorz Myćka, Paweł Napierała

Echizen washi

There are many ways to talk about the Echizen Washi Village. Historically, it is one of the oldest craft centres in Japan, going back to the 8th century. In terms of religion, it is the home of the goddess Kawakami Gozen – the only shrine in the whole country devoted to a patron deity of papermakers. Looking at technology, it is the source of a perfect material, highly valued to this day, not the least at the imperial palace. In art, it offers opportunities for collaboration with the greatest artists, such as Yayoi Kusama. It is also the location of the workshop of Japan’s Living National Treasure – Ichibei Iwano IX. All of it is immersed in the whisper of springs and the green of hillsides.

Just how inexhaustible the options for describing Echizen are is demonstrated by the complexity of the exhibition.
The technology involved in making washi can be traced back by looking at the devices that have for over a century been part of the Yamaguchi family’s papermaking tradition (a gift from Kazuo Yamaguchi and Kazunori Yamaguchi, enhanced by several objects from the workshop of Ichibei Iwano IX).

The figure of Ichibei Iwano IX also becomes a bridge between the worlds of technology and art. Together with Yayoi Kusama, these two outstanding figures have created a masterly oeuvre, complementing each other.

What the papermaking of today looks like is demonstrated by Katsuhiro Hata’s photographs. For four years, the photographer accompanied masters at twenty-four workshops, both at work and at leisure. The outcome of his effort offers us an insight into an otherwise inaccessible world, and an even more extended presentation in the book that accompanies the exhibition, Papier japoński: washi (Japanese paper: washi).

Washi takes on new qualities and dimensions in the works of such artists as Iva Gobić (textural works), Paweł Napierała (installation), and Grzegorz Myćka (animations). Each artist perceives paper differently: they bring out its different aspects and also use different means of expression while keeping Echizen washi centre stage.

And then there is, of course, the paper itself. Beautiful in its essence. Unlimited by any quantity of decoration. Changeable in its primary form. The Fukui Prefecture Washi Industrial Cooperative (福井県和紙工業協同組合) and the Echizen Washi Village (越前和紙の里), comprising the the Udatsu Paper and Craft Museum, Paper and Culture Museum, and the Papyrus House, are depositories of the heritage of all the papermaking centres, and now a portion of this wealth has been imparted to all of us to experience.

Ichibei Iwano IX  九代岩野市兵衛

Ichibei Iwano IX was born in 1933 in Echizen. His father, Ichibei Iwano VIII, was one of the first masters in Japan to receive the title of Living National Treasure in papermaking in 1968. Ichibei Iwano IX merited this designation in 2000. This unique accolade was conferred in recognition of his adherence to 1,300 years of tradition and continuance of the original technology which ensured that washi was made of pure kōzo fibres, resulting is paper characterized by extreme resilience and at the same time by delicacy and a fine natural colour.

Ichibei Iwano IX made the hōsho paper used in the series of prints by Yayoi Kusama, Mt Fuji in Seven Colours.

Kusama Yayoi 草間彌生

Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Yayoi Kusama is one of the most recognizable contemporary Japanese artists in the world. A signature characteristic of her work is the obsessive use of dots filling the surfaces of her paintings, sculptures, and installations. Her work shown in this exhibition was made in the traditional woodblock printing technique  (mokuhanga). Her representation of Mount Fuji, however, reflects an individual perception of the motif that has been present in art for centuries (symbol of Japan) and has been transformed here into a very impressionistic view which conveys the artist’s emotions and draws the viewer into a hypnotic world. 

Yayoi Kusama, Mt Fuji, I Love (Red), from the series Mt Fuji in Seven Colours, 2015 Woodblock print on Echizen washi of the hōsho type, made by Ichibei Iwano IX, Living National Treasure

Yayoi Kusama, Mt Fuji, I Love (Red), from the series Mt Fuji in Seven Colours, 2015

Iva Gobić

Iva Gobić, Geomorphology, 2021, Croatia

Print (blind embossing) on Echizen washi made in the workshop of the Yamaguchi family, whose tools and furnishings are displayed in this exhibition

The series of relief prints (blind embossing) was made in Rt Kamenjak Nature Park in Istria, Croatia: the paper was embossed against rocks, so that the natural stone became the plate and the artist’s body was the printing press. The title of the series, the term geomorphology, is derived from Greek (γή, geo, ‘earth’; μορφή, morphé, ‘form’; and λόγος, logos, ‘reason, study’). It is the scientific study of the terrain (relief) and the processes that shape it. Relief is produced by reactions to a combination of natural and anthropogenic processes. The character of these works is to a large extent determined by the fact that they were made out in the open, in nature. They channel reflections on the atmosphere and the elements characteristic of that environment (the sea, salt, sunlight), as well as the desire to convey an imprint of outdoor surfaces into indoor spaces using the pure power of washi paper. The use of elements of nature and the most immediate surroundings affords a certain freedom and space for experiment, and also an opportunity to venture away from the traditional printmaking techniques.

Paweł Napierała

Paweł Napierała, mono no aware, site specific installation, 2021

Complex of works using Echizen washi made in the workshop of the Yamaguchi family, whose tools and furnishings are displayed in this exhibition

The title of the work invokes the Japanese aesthetic category that refers to a certain emotional ambience surrounding humans, things, nature, and art. It is pervaded with wistfulness or melancholy which arises in confrontation with the inevitable impermanence of the beauty of the external world. It is not, however, dominated by a sense of sadness but rather by a kind of reverie on the very essence of the world. The installation is composed of elongated paper elements suspended in the air. They were modelled on columns in Jesuit altars. The resultant forms are no longer parts of architecture though. Detached from the base, they remain suspended – both literally and figuratively. The artist juxtaposes the traditions of two cultures.

Katsuhiro Hata  勝浩畑

Born in 1964, Katsuhiro Hata now lives and works in his native city of Echizen. He represents the third generation in a family of photographers who have been passing on their family tradition of encapsulating the world around them in snapped images. The photographic studio Midorikan remains a centre for taking a thoughtful look at places and people. Katsuhiro Hata also worked for years as a journalist, interviewing e.g. the Nobelist Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma) and the 17th Karmapa (India). Hata is also a traveller: he has visited more than 80 countries, including Poland – twice.
!Wypełnij to pole
!Wypełnij to pole