JART8th at the WAH Center

On Friday March 2nd, despite the terrible cold and the storm, the exhibition space of the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center was filled with art lovers as well as artists themselves. Some only came from the next borough over, some flew all the way from Tokyo, Japan, to participate in and witness the JART8th show, Japanese Emerging Artists Exhibition. The space was transformed for one week to host works varying from black triptych paintings and delicate flower designs covering the walls, to countless little concrete figures placed in an almost religious circle. The show brings together Japanese artists, making sure to include a wide spectrum of mediums and themes. Of course, there is a spectrum of artists concerning where they are based, some have never left Japan and their work is influenced heavily by their lives based in the midst of the Japanese culture and style of living. Some, on the other hand, have moved to U.S.A at different points of their lives, or were born here. Arranging these varying works to be seen together compliments and strengthens the individual pieces too. One can’t help but compare and contrast, and see the similarities or differences in ideas.


Installation View with Emi Moriyama’s Room Series


Walking into the space, the first thing is a table in the middle of the room, crowded with small glass boxes, each containing their own small world inside. Room Series by Emi Moriyama (Tokyo) is like a miniature view of our lives, each ‘room’ shows another part of life. Bed Room is one of the simplest boxes, a piece of beige ‘curtain’ pulled up at one corner, a tiny white ‘bed’ and maybe a pillow and a little square on the ground, maybe a book. It’s simple, filled with only essentials, a bit lonely. But it is also so peaceful that it’s not surely a bad room to be in. Two boxes down, is the Room of Desire, with a bigger bed and a shiny cylinder streaked with red and needles and tissues, and more red on the paper attached on the bed with those same needles. It seems very intimate. Seeing it with the title, it makes one question what pain, pleasure is, and how do we even start to distinguish between the two. Is there even a difference between those terms? Moriyama ends up questioning these kinds of dualities in life, through such miniature and minimalistic spaces. “I want to keep space as it is in this hand…” Moriyama wrote for the piece, to her the miniature size is the core reason of why the work is so effective.

Across from the table, the walls show paintings and photographs, a stark contrast to the three-dimensional work at the entrance. The three mostly black paintings by Kotaru Otsuka (Tokyo) are arranged in a triptych, next to the photographs by Chihiro Yamazaki (Tokyo). On the opposite wall, Kiichiro Adachi NY) presents seven plates arranged in a flower and covered in shiny silver sequins turning and playing with the colors of the reflection of the viewer.


Yusuke Ochiai’s Poi Figurines


In the back of the room is another sculptural work, by Yusuke Ochiai (NY). Unlike Moriyama, he has lived in Brooklyn for a while now, and also works as a street artist. His concrete sculptures are ‘Poi’, Path of Imagination, he calls them. The figure is humanlike, with large eyes and a bread covering the bottom half of his face. They stand in circles, get smaller and smaller with each circle until they are small enough to carry a golden rabbit-like figure in the middle. It’s ritualistic, and protective, inspired by the Jizou, ancient guardian deity statues for towns of Japan. “That’s exactly how I found him, through my own imagination-but now Poi manifests itself in countless forms.” Ochiai explains. “I now live in NY, I can no longer greet Jizou, so I decided to create my own.” It’s a playful installation, but loaded with a lot of emotion, of hope and desire of help, or protection. This day and age in NY, it is a natural emotion to want comfort, and Ochiai expresses it well.

Walking around the space as a whole, the diversity of the works and artists really do come out. Moving from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, from spiritual to playful, the push and pull between works is very clear.


Cagla Sokullo, Contributing Writer for the WAH Center’s Blog