Capsule #5: Azuma Makoto
March 17 – April 30, 2016
Renowned Japanese botanical artist to debut new series of sculptures alongside a decade of iconic works
NEW YORK, 8 MARCH 2016 – Chamber is pleased to announce its fifth capsule exhibition, a solo show by groundbreaking Japanese botanical artist Azuma Makoto. Curated by multi-disciplinary artist Andrew Zuckerman as part of his year-long exploration of intersection points between man and nature for Chamber, the exhibition continues to examine how the natural world interacts with man’s living environment. The exhibition, the first survey of its kind of the artist’s work, will run from March 17th through April 30th, 2016.
“No other artist has made us so radically reconsider the power of flowers, plants, and ultimately nature, in such an insightful and seductive way,” said Juan Garcia Mosqueda, founder of Chamber. “We’re thrilled to be able to expose the spectra of his work in a gallery in New York for the first time.”
For over a decade, Tokyo-based Azuma Makoto has challenged our perspective on, and relationship to, nature and the effects of time through expressive botanical artworks and installations using living flowers and plants arranged in unique ways and settings. For his first gallery exhibition in New York, Azuma will debut his Polypore sculptures (2016) alongside select works that offer a look into Azuma’s practice, where art meets science: new Shiki 1 suspended plants (2016), photographs from his Exobiotanica series (2014), objects from his Botanical series (2012), and Crystal Seedcases (2006).
“Since the human race was born, man has been depicting his relationship to nature. The art man makes about his position within the natural world is like a mirror reflecting the era. Artists in the modern age interpret our constantly evolving relationship to nature in works that undeniably express the now. The pieces in this collection speak to the theme of Human|Nature, and reflect a series of man-made interventions in materials, forms, and principles from the natural world. This intersection of man and nature—which he is both a part of and separate from–combines to generate new beauty,” stated Makoto.
With his Polypore series, Makoto introduces a new language of permanence to his work, combining gold, platinum and copper with polypores—shelf-like fungi that grow on old tree trunks. In the polypore, Makoto has found a raw material that thrives on the decomposition of nature, yet when removed from their natural habitat, is hardened like wood. Foraged from different parts of Japan—Tokyo, Chiba, Gunma, Yamanashi, Gifu and Yamagata—each of the six polypores bring with it characteristics unique to the place. Of these, metal has been applied to four that have been disembodied from their tree trunks, while metal leafing has been applied to the tree trunks of the others.
“I’m a long-time fan of Azuma’s, and have been struck by his ability to transform well-tread materials and forms into something utterly new since the first time I encountered his work,” says Zuckerman. “Since he chooses elements from the natural world as his medium, he creates the effect of actually suffusing nature with new life.”
For Chamber, Makoto has created two new SHIKI 1 works—small pine trees suspended by wire in a fixed position in the middle of a steel frame, part of the artist’s ongoing exploration of the essence of the pine tree through experimental ikebana. In his SHIKI series, according to Flower and I: The Work of Azuma Makoto, “Azuma is taking the primeval costal pine forest of his childhood memories and working out how to bring to life the majestic, powerful presence of those pines.”
Photography has long played a central role in Makoto’s work—the artwork that ultimately captures the artwork, says Azuma Makoto, “they carry the burden of the flower’s existence.” Nowhere is this more palpable than in Makoto’s Exobiotanica series which captures a SHIKI 1 and a colorful floral arrangement as they hurl through the sky and into space beyond, through a project developed in collaboration with JP Aerospace in 2014 outside Gerlach, Nevada.
From Makoto’s Botanical series of industrial products covered in astroturf, Zuckerman has chosen a sofa, table and bicycle. Herein, fictional moss camouflaged as everyday objects playfully enables the semblance of nature to infiltrate our lives.
Finally, on display from Makoto’s early Crystal Seedcase series are glass containers in the form of an amaryllis, a sunflower, a soybean, and an avocado, each of which encapsulate their corresponding seeds. For Makoto, these repositories are meant as life-saving first aid kits with which we will regenerate food-stuffs and plant life in a post-apocalyptic world.
In addition, Makoto has contributed a glass-enclosed conservatory for a bonsai tree entitled Paludarium Osamu (2015) to Chamber Collection #2.
About Azuma Makoto
Azuma Makoto, born in 1976 in Fukuoka on the Japanese island of Kyushu, is a Japanese botanical artist. After moving to Tokyo to pursue a career in music, he worked as a trader in a flower market and became in interested in the art of flower arrangement. In 2002, he co-founded JARDINS des FLEURS, a haute couture flower shop with photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki, producing bespoke bouquets. As the business grew, Makoto developed the concept of “botanical sculpture,” which brought him worldwide recognition, and following an exhibition in 2005 in Tribeca, New York, his experimental works were shown in major European cities like Paris, Dusseldorf, and Milan. In 2009, he launched the experimental botanical lab, Azuma Makoto Kaju Kenkyusho (AMKK) to continue his practice creating unique, inventive installations for art museums, galleries, and public spaces in Italy, Belgium, China and Mexico. As an artist, his interest lies in elevating the value of flowers and plants to the aesthetic level of artwork by honoring their natural dignity, ever-changing context, and bringing forth the unique and mysterious forms in which they can be expressed.
About Andrew Zuckerman
Multi-disciplinary artist Andrew Zuckerman maintains a flexible practice spanning photography and conceptual, documentary, and narrative film. Zuckerman’s projects typically reflect a multi-tiered investigation into a given subject matter, translated in his signature minimalist visual language. For several years, he has been deeply invested in an exploration of the natural world, producing a body of work that encompasses over 500 species of birds, animals, and plant life. Zuckerman has published 5 major books, which have been translated into numerous languages and published in 18 international editions. His photographs and films have been exhibited internationally and acquired by museums and private collectors.
CHAMBER is a unique exhibition space, a 21st century cabinet of curiosities for one-of-a-kind, rare and limited edition objects of design and art. Founded in 2014 by Juan Garcia Mosqueda and located in New York City, the gallery aims to be a reliquary for unusual objects, as well as a platform for design experimentation. As a central part of its program, an artist or designer is chosen to curate an entire collection, bringing their unique viewpoint to Chamber through specially commissioned works and rare and vintage items.
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