The Genbi Shinkansen: Japan’s newest bullet train is the world’s fastest gallery, packed with contemporary art inside and out

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

From an engineering standpoint, Japan’s famed Shinkansen is already a work of art. Recently, though, the country’s bullet trains have been putting a renewed effort into their appearance, taking inspiration from centuries-old tradition and science-fiction anime.

The latest Shinkansen to be unveiled, though, incorporates design cues more modern than tatami reed floors yet not as futuristic as giant robots. Instead, it’s envisioned as a travelling gallery of contemporary art, allowing for what operator East Japan Railways calls “the world’s fastest art appreciation.”

A special train needs a special name, and the new Shinkansen has been christened Genbi, combining the kanji gen (), meaning “contemporary,” and bi (), “beauty.” The Genbi Shinkansen will run along the Joetsu Shinkansen line between Niigata and Echigo Yuzawa Stations in Niigata Prefecture.

▼ Fittingly, the kanji used in the Genbi Shinkansen’s logo are heavily stylized.

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Seven of the carriages will be used as art exhibition spaces, with different painters, sculptors, and visual creators represented in each. The contributing artists have been announced as Nao Matsumoto, Yusuke Komuta, Kentaro Kobuke, Naoki Ishikawa, Haruaka Kojin, and Brian Alfred.

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If you’d like your sense of taste to be stimulated along with your sight, there’s also a cafe. On the menu you’ll find sweets made with rice flour from Niigata’s prized (and pricy) Uonuma-grown Koshihikari rice and butter from dairies on Sadogashima Island.

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And it’s not like only passengers inside the train will have something pretty to look at, either. The non-windowed side of the Genbi Shinkansen’s exterior is covered with colorful photographs of Niigata’s Nagaoka Fireworks Festival, one of the largest in Japan, taken by photographer Mika Ninagawa.

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The Genbi Shinkansen goes into service next spring.

Haejin Lee’s unraveling ceramic sculptures 

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Beautiful Decay (by Tamara Akcay):

Intertwined strips of ceramics escaping from their original form. Haejin Lee’s abstract sculptures blend perfection and fantasy. A flawless object, face or body part suddenly disintegrates into a uncontrolled harmonized chaos. Fascinated by the indefinite loop of the Mobius strip (a surface with a non orientable property), she brings into her art pieces the transformation of a flat surface into a 3 dimensional rendering. The final piece mirrors two essential aspects for the artist: continuity and infinity.

The dichotomy between perfection and confusion reflects the technical difficulties the artist had to face while conceptualizing the pieces. In order to get a steady work of art, she had to anticipate the weight of the strips once dried and heated. Often created in monochromatic tones, the plain colors add intensity to the sculptures.
Haejin Lee is inviting us to interpret the passage from reality to surrealism. As if the strips, bandages of our exterior enveloppe had to fly away in order to reveal the essence of our souls, imagination and creativity. By acknowledging that the pieces were ‘almost impossible to balance’, the artist insists on the difficulty yet essential need for individuals to unconsciously or not; define their equilibrium.

Discover the work of Haejin Lee, her abstract sculptures and her tableware collection on herwebsite and Instagram

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Chinese-Australian artist Ah Xian’s porcelain busts fuse artistic traditions

Ah Xian - Porcelain Beautiful Decay (by Hayley Evans):

Ah Xian is a Chinese-Australian artist whose beautiful porcelain busts explore the intersections between artistic tradition, cultural identity, and the body. Sculpting each statue in the likeness of his family members, Ah Xian paints over their dreaming faces with a cobalt blue glaze; tree branches grow across temples, flowers bloom over silent mouths, and necks and shoulders become geographies for mountains and lakes.

Drawing on an enduring fascination for the human form, Ah Xian’s creations exude a sense of mystery and otherworldliness, transcending history as embodiments of a living past: their very “skin” is made of materials used in traditional Chinese craft methods. Ah Xian’s intent, however, is not to show the disjunction between past and present, but rather how such heritages have ongoing relevance and meaning in the present-day world. As he states in an interview with Craft Australia:

When I think about human history and civilization, it always appears to be like a string: one extreme is old time and tradition; current and contemporary is the other. Interestingly, when we turn and join the two extremes together, it forms a perfect circle and creates a new language of art.

This is why I choose traditional materials and hand craft those materials; our ancestors have created and handed down to us such wealthy and brilliant art and culture heritage. Why don’t we use such a rich and meaningful deposit as our resources to develop and create our new art and culture?

When viewing Ah Xian’s work through a contemporary lens, there lies the potential criticism that his busts — like the porcelain vases that preceded them in the nineteenth century — evoke an imperialist form of exoticism; that is, just because they are objects of beauty, they speak to a tradition of cultural appropriation. Ah Xian, however, maintains that no matter what context in which porcelain is crafted, it is always a valuable and admired art form:

“Porcelain is beautiful and meaningful, not necessary just for meeting the exotic appreciation among some of the western people only, but for the whole human society, for every single human being, I believe.” 

Ah Xian is based in Sydney, where he has lived and worked for over two decades.

Check out Craft Australia’s fascinating interview with the artist to learn more about his work.

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Contemporary artist Li Hongbo’s “Irons for the Ages, Flowers for the Day” arranges thousands of paper weapon sculptures into flowery rainbow towers

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Design Boom/Beautiful Decay (by Hayley Evans):

Li Hongbo is a Beijing-based artist who builds elaborate and flexible paper sculptures that ripple and shift before our eyes. Featured here is “Irons for the Ages, Flowers for the Day,” a large-scale installation currently on display at the SCAD Museum of Art.

The work—which spans the entirety of a gallery—involves thousands of small paper objects bound together by honeycomb layers of glue. Close up, the bright shapes align themselves like an undulating, flowery rainbow; step back, however, and you’ll see that together the shapes amass into the greater form of guns and artillery. In a surprising clash of innocent colors and delicate paper with the brutality of war, Hongbo produces a curious (and potentially deceitful) optimism for deadly weapons.

Hongbo’s work draws upon the ancient, cultural tradition of paper-making in China, which dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). Inspired by this art form, Hongbo has reinvented it on a grand scale. Other projects include malleable bodies and busts, such as a version of Michelangelo’s David that unfolds spectacularly. The ability to metamorphose is integral to Hongbo’s works; with the politics left aside (or at least ambiguous), his sculptures challenge our perceptions by unsettling solid forms with their built-in fluidity. Whether it’s guns or classical statues, we can’t help but to reconsider the materiality and purpose of objects as they transform before our eyes.

Irons for the Ages, Flowers for the Day” will be showing until January 24th, 2016.

Check out SCAD’s website to learn more.

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British-Indian sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor’s “Descension” exhibition at Galleria Continua (Italy)

Woodworking sculptor Haroshi opens HHH Gallery in Tokyo with “Wait What”

 

Wooden sculptures of Yoshitoshi Kanemaki

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RocketNews 24:

As a wood sculptor, Yoshitoshi Kanemaki works in negative space. To create his imaginative human figures, he painstakingly carves and removes the unwanted sections from a huge single block of wood. The resulting statues combine realism with darker, surreal imagery, giving us sculptures such as a woman with many faces; a man embracing a skeleton; mirror images of two young men sprouting from the same head.

In a fascinating and detailed photo series, the Japanese artist has revealed how his latest work was made; join us as we follow in his footsteps, and take a look back at some of his other stunning artworks.

Posting the images, Kanemaki explained:

Showing how I make my work, by posting photos online like this is part of what I do [as an artist]. People can see my finished work at exhibitions, but that doesn’t show them the process that went into it.”

He does not hesitate to show fans his work in an unfinished state, he continues, because:

“Some artists might not want to show people their art while it’s still a work in progress, but in the process of making art we can see the artist’s thoughts, methods and the difficulties they faced along the way. There is a lot more contained in these photos than just showing the techniques used.”

In this photo series posted on his official Facebook page, Kanemaki shows how he made the piece TAYUTA – Caprice, a sculpture of a young woman with myriad faces and expressions. (The Japanese word ‘tayuta‘, like “caprice”, means a state of fickleness, evoking changes in mood or behaviour).

▼ All of Kanemaki’s pieces begin in the same way, with a single hunk of tree. This one is camphor wood.

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▼ For this piece, the artist constructed a styrofoam model to assist with scaling.

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▼ After sketching out the rough pattern, he uses a chainsaw to roughly cut away the unwanted pieces.

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▼ This particular piece is a young girl depicted at 2/3 scale. Kanemaki says that it ended up around the same size as his five-year-old son. Proportions are key, and the artist says he must take care to ensure the enlarged head section doesn’t make the model look like a giant infant.

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▼ Because wood carving is art carried out in negative space – the unwanted pieces cut from the block – Kanemaki works slowly and carefully, making sure not to make mistakes. Here, we can see that the head and body still look a little larger than the finished piece will.

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▼ Next, the artist begins to work in finer detail on the hands and face.

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 ▼ Paint adds depth and detail.

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▼ The detailing on the face begins to take shape.

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 ▼ Check out the texturing on that hair!

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As Kanemaki writes: “carving gives the statue life, but coloring breathes life into it.”

▼ The finished piece.

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We did some digging, and found more of Kanemaki’s pieces to share with you.

▼ This one is called Kokochi Caprice. As you can see, multiple headed figures are a continuing theme.

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Dunamis (a Greek word meaning strength or inherent power).

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▼ Shungyou [spring dawn] mentality

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▼ This piece is taken from a series entitled ‘Memento Mori’

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▼ Shuujitsu [all-day] contrast

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You can follow Kanemaki’s work on his regularly updated Facebook page.

Limited Edt (Singapore) x Jahan Loh “Full Metal Twenty Three” Life Size Sculpture

Artist Profile: Sayaka Ganz’s thrift store sculptures

 

Juxtapoz:

 

Artist Sayaka Ganz creates her sculptures using thrift store plastics. Both her Japanese roots and the Japanese Shinto belief that ‘all objects and organisms have spirits’ heavily influence Sayaka.

With those as her starting point, she feels that art arise ‘from the passion for fitting odd shapes together and a sympathy toward discarded objects.’

 

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Artist Profile: Beijing-based beekeeper/artist Ren Ri’s sculptures

 

Juxtapoz:

 

Based out of Beijing, Ren Ri is an artist and beekeeper. Titled ‘Yuansu II’, his series features sculptures he collaborated on with bees. Cleverly using a method of chance, Ren rolled a die to determine the next position for the transparent plastic boxes every week. This guaranteed spontaneity and mystery in both party’s actions. Inside at the center of every structure, the queen bee resides while the worker bees build around her.

A beautiful collaboration with nature while referencing the biblical concept of creation, Ren pushes the third dimension to ethereal heights.

 

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