Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception
Takahiro Iwasaki, Japan Institute artist-in-residence. Photo by Nozomi Tomoeda, courtesy of ANOMALY.

Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception

Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR - Sep 24 - Dec 4

by Joseph Gallivan

These are exciting times at Portland Japanese Garden, where what started out as a postwar “peace garden” is becoming a major US-Japanese cultural and educational center. With its Kengo Kuma–designed pavilion, galleries and craft spaces, the garden can now attract world-class artists, and give them the time and space to make something truly original and particular to this place.

Hiroshima-based Takahiro Iwasaki, who represented Japan at the 2017 Venice Biennale, is the garden’s artist-in-residence this fall. Iwasaki makes wooden sculptures that look like architectural models put through the blender of his imagination. His Reflection Model (Ship of Theseus) looks like a set from Studio Ghibli’s fantasy Howl’s Moving Castle, with interlocked pagodas floating in space, on top of an upside-down version of themselves. In his Reflection Model series, Iwasaki’s architecturally accurate models of historic Japanese sites are immersive installations, designed to be walked around and under.

In the past, his series called Out of Disorder reproduced structures such as ferris wheels and oil refineries using hair, dust, threads, towels and toothbrushes. Fragile sculptures emerged from familiar objects, depicting imposing structures on an intimate and delicate scale that invites a sense of wonder. Other microscopic sculptures included an incomplete Eiffel Tower and the cupola of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento, Italy, made of hair and visible through a telescope.

His work in Portland will be a mixture of his intricately detailed wooden models and his work with everyday materials, such as duct tape, thread and toothbrushes, which he transforms into extraordinary miniature landscapes.


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