Zhulong Gallery is pleased to announce Shiki: Landscape and Beyond, an exhibition of sculpture and photographic works by floral sculptor Azuma Makoto. Suspended mid-air, a 5-foot ‘timeless pine tree’ encapsulated by an open steel frame organizes an invisible axis in the gallery. Makoto’s internationally exhibited shiki I sculpture will be surrounded by large-format photographs, shot by Azuma’s collaborator, Shunsuke Shiinoki, illustrating its almost ten year path around and above the globe. From derelict government spaces, to sublime landscapes, Azuma conflates notions of landscape, portraiture, and still life traditions in western art to set up a striking bricolage of nature, artifice, and time which speaks clearly to eastern motifs in art. The exhibition will include new photographs of the shiki in extreme landscapes that these plants would never naturally occur as well as documentary footage in a digital format.
Azuma’s practice investigates and attenuates the limits of the life cycle, while also asking in what other contexts can and should the botanical sculptures appear? Suspending the living natural object within the rigid, but open box, Makoto sets up a metaphor for how he sees our relationship to the natural world—an incomplete attempt to grasp at the seeming eternity.
Seemingly a nod to momento mori, the artists’ framing of the tree with its exposed roots, living trunk, and hand-made resin leaves, unifies the natural and artifice, and creates a tense situation for viewing. Azuma goes beyond, however, and celebrates the eventual demise of the flora he sculpts. Not a warning, his creations are a celebration of the passage of time.
With such a reserved hand, Azuma has created a work that takes command over any space it is installed in. The open cubic frame proposing the basis for architecture, and enclosed space, but the lifeform suspended within it offering a means for enchantment, contemplation. Fully illustrating the unison of art and technology through design, Azuma offers a vessel and floral sculpture originating somewhere in the ikebana tradition, but going beyond, and pushing the medium outside prior limits. In Azuma’s noteworthy Exobiotanica series, he floated shiki I into the stratosphere, capturing the journey in thousands of images. These galactic snapshots of the sculpture propose an ethereal almost spiritual journey that begs the association of the work and its journeys with the life of the sculptor, and ours as well.
Documentary works and Exhibition Catalogue:
Shiki: Landscape and Beyond will feature documentary style stills and images available for collection on small digital monitors. This gesture allows for a continuation of the nomadic journey of the shiki. The exhibition is also accompanied by a lavish 200-page exhibition catalogue with full-color images and an essay by Koganezawa Satoshi. The book will be available for purchase at Zhulong Gallery.
Opening and Traditional Tsukushi Performance:
A public artist reception will be held on Friday, October 23, from 7-9P. Join us as we celebrate cultural exchange, contemporary art, and technology. In addition to celebrating the opening of the exhibition, we are pleased to present a private Tsukushimai (Tsukushi dance) performance by the Chief Priest of the Miyajidake Shrine in Fukutsu, Fukuoka, Japan—also Azuma’s home town. Performance is invitation only.
About the artist:
Azuma Makoto teamed up with Shunsuke Shiinoki in 2002 to open JARDINS des FLEURS, a haute couture flower shop offering bouquets designed on-demand in Tokyo. In 2005 he began to explore the expressive potential of flowers. He coined the genre of the “botanical sculpture,” and soon after began to receive international attention. Following a solo exhibition in New York, his experimental works have been shown in Paris, Belgium, Dusseldorf and beyond. While launching the experimental botanical lab Azuma Makoto Kaju Kenkyusho (AMKK) in 2009, he went on to exhibit his works at art museums, galleries and public spaces in Milan, Belgium, Shanghai and Mexico among others.
In recent years, Azuma has focused on his project arranging flowers in all kinds of mundane situations that don’t occur in the realm of nature, and continues to pursue the beauty of plants from a distinct point of view.
About Zhulong Gallery
Zhulong Gallery (pronounced chú-long) presents work by artists who acknowledge and engage with the prevalence of technology in the everyday. Exhibitions range from video installations, interactive works, as well as sculpture, paintings and works on paper. Zhulong Gallery presents regular programming dedicated to education, cultural, and artistic collaboration in the public realm. For more information on Zhulong Gallery, please visit www.zhulonggallery.com