Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Japanese artist Naoko Tosa. As a pioneering media artist, Tosa is internationally renowned for her use of cutting-edge technology to produce works that channel traditional Japanese culture. Curated by Junji Ito, the exhibition showcases innovative media works from series such as ‘Sound of Ikebana’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Space Flower’ as well as a new series entitled ‘Four Gods’. These works will be presented alongside a selection of her digital photographs. The exhibition combines art and science to capture the invisible beauty of the world we live in.
Tosa’s 1985 video artwork, entitled ‘An Expression’, features sound she generated using a light sensor which reads the brightness of a TV monitor. It broke new ground for video artwork and was acquired by MoMA New York. Tosa’s most celebrated creation, ‘Sound of Ikebana’ (生け花, means flower arrangement in Japanese) is an extension of this previous work. She passes sound vibrations through coloured fluids like paints and oils and captures the mesmerising movement of colours via high-speed camera. The organic, elegant movements are displayed in colours and textures carefully selected according to cultural and historical colour iconography. ‘Sound of Ikebana’ was projected on the exterior wall of ArtScience Museum in Singapore in 2014 and on over 60 billboards in Times Square, New York in 2017 in partnership with the Japan Society Gallery and Times Square Arts.
While maintaining her Japanese aesthetics, Tosa explores the origin of all life with ‘Genesis’. By capturing the movement and interaction of Japanese ink and dry ice bubbles inside a highly viscous fluid, she re-creates the fluctuating but alluring moment of creation itself. The artist explains it is a “hyper-natural form of art” that is too complicated to grasp and can only be captured using a high-speed camera with 2000 frames per second.
Tosa’s ‘Space Flower’ series is a homage to Rimpa, a historical school of Japanese painting founded in Kyoto in the 17th century. Dramatic composition, luxurious use of precious substances like gold and pearls and backgrounds of gold leaf are common features of Rimpa. The ‘Space Flower’ series combines references from Rimpa painting even though the subject matter is drawn from subjects ranging from Japanese Oiran (a traditional courtesan) to jungles in space. Two works from the series, ‘Thunder God’ and ‘Wind God’ are Tosa’s homage to Sotatsu Tawaraya’s famous piece ‘Wind God and Thunder God.’
Tosa’s latest series of work, ‘Four Gods,’ which was created by giving sound vibration to Urushi (lacquer in Japanese) focuses on four mythological creatures from Chinese constellations, the Blue Dragon, Red Phoenix, Blue Turtle and White Tiger. The four creatures each represent a direction, a season, and also elements of life such as wood, fire, metal and water. The creatures are culturally important in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and are portrayed as guardians of the people in ancient relics found throughout the region and in Feng shui. The concept of ‘Four Gods’ emerged in Tosa’s digital artwork at the Yeosu Marine Expo (Korea) in 2012 and was later honoured by the Expo committee. This is the first time the artist will introduce a new series of works in a gallery space.
Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong will transform itself into a multimedia environment for this exhibition, with high-tech equipment generously provided by TELMIC Corp. and USHIO Lighting Inc., allowing Tosa’s work to be experienced in the most dynamic manner possible.