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Art to Awaken the Senses

川上典李子

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.98

I first saw Prismatic Cloud, currently on display in the GINZA SIX central atrium, at the end of February, when cold skies hung over Tokyo. I was mesmerized by this installation by Tokujin Yoshioka, an artist and designer active around the world. Very much in his style, the piece prompts you to take it in from every conceivable angle. I went up and down the escalator from the second to fifth floor and back multiple times. As I looked at the work, I felt an elation similar to what one feels when seeing the sky from the window of a plane while taking off or landing.

I wanted to see this sparkling cloud once again, but I spent the spring quietly. I saw it next on a Friday morning close to the summer solstice. It happened to be raining, but the greeting from this floating work did wonders to lighten my spirit. Indeed, this is the magic of Yoshioka. He’s known for works of light, for Rainbow Church and other prismatic sculptures that release a spectrum of colors like a rainbow.

“I don’t replicate nature’s lovely forms,” Yoshioka says. “I try to express the energy of nature itself, an energy that touches the heart.” For all its intricacy, nature also has an elemental power. At times, we’re overwhelmed by something—sights that carry with them something beyond the imagination. A single strand of light—which isn’t simply tranquil; this is why we perceive it acutely—moves us and awakens our senses.

Depending on the angle, the work here at GINZA SIX sparkles in the eye like the colors of the rainbow. Like cloud formations made of water vapor and particles of ice, the work is formed of ten thousand prismatic rods. On this light sculpture, Yoshioka commented: “Light is a symbolic expression of life itself. The sparkling light of every person gathered here would envelope the world in brightness. I was thinking something along those lines when I was putting together this work.”

The light of the sun, the light of the moon, light as a medium of expression—Yoshioka’s work draws attention to one’s memories and experiences, as well as the feelings we hold inside. Yoshioka is currently at work on a piece of public art for long-term display in an underground passageway of the Ginza subway station. It, too, will be an expression of light. I can’t wait until fall, when I’ll see both that work and Prismatic Cloud.

Come bear witness to the true charms of nature—in constant and ceaseless flux—in yet another form, the form of art.

Living Canyon, by artist and botanist Patrick Blanc, is an 11-meter-high vertical garden covering three floors. It depicts a canyon, from its sun-drenched rocky rim to the deep valley below. Three years have gone by since it was installed. The plants are now growing vigorously. I viewed it from afar, then ventured up and down the stairs to get a closer look at the details. The work features some 75 varieties of plants, including some native to Japan. Leaves of uncommon shapes, stems shooting up, hearty bulbs you’d like to reach out and touch—this canyon in Ginza, shrouded in light, is eloquent and expressive.

Seeking out yet another encounter with art created by a heart turned toward nature, I made my way to Van Cleef & Arpels. With design sketches from the maison’s archives exhibited in the stairway area from the first belowground floor to the second floor, the space is a pleasant condensation of the maison’s own spirit. Here I had the opportunity to examine some of the GINZA SIX store’s many works of high-end jewelry.

The Frivole collection, featuring reflections of light from the facets of intricately crafted flower petals, presents flowers clad in sparkling light (necklace 1,380,000 yen; earrings 1,476,000 yen; all prices listed before tax; earrings not sold at all locations). The Lotus Between the Finger Ring (3,468,000 yen) offers an ingenious depiction of a lotus blossom and two modes of enjoyment—this is art brimming with the charms of both sculpture and the expressive force of the natural world.

And here is Folie des prés, the beloved Van Cleef & Arpels collection (bracelet 12,120,000 yen; earrings 6,840,000 yen), which takes its inspiration from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s play set in a woodland faerie realm. The diamonds, the intricacy and vivid colors of the colored sapphires, the delicate details of the setting—these flowers continue to bloom and sparkle thanks to the traditional techniques and savoir faire of the maison craftsmen, known as “Mains d’Or” (“Golden Hands”).

The charm and lyric character found in the jewelry collections are just as eloquent in the watches. The maison’s iconic Midnight Pont des Amoureux (23,496,000 yen) is a watch for experiencing the arc of time spun from pure poetry. Depicted on this watch are lovers with a rendezvous on the “Bridge of Love”. The woman with an umbrella in hand is the hour-hand, moving languidly from left. The man, the minute-hand, paces from the right to the center. The two meet at 12 o’clock in an embrace under the light of the moon. The enchanting sparkle of the diamonds appears to embody the internal world of the two lovers.

“The story came first,” says store manager Jun Takeuchi. “Then we developed the movement for the story.” The Paris at night scene on the dial was made using grisaille enamel techniques from the 16th century. Layers of limoges white generate a contrasting black, gray, and white that transfixes one’s gaze. The creativity applied in turning this story fragment into an evocative tangible object deserves a round of applause.

Scenes engraved in memory are intertwined with aromas, so much so that flavors and aromas can make us recall various scenes and landscapes from memory into perfect focus. I choose to go to Mixology Salon on the 13th floor, the Restaurant Floor. This is the world of Mixology cocktails, which draw freely on unexpected and creative ideas. The owner and bartender, active on the world stage, is Shuzo Nagumo, who refers to Mixology cocktails as composite works of art.

The Ginza Mixology features an expansive selection of cocktails based on Japanese green tea. The bar’s green tea cocktails are the product of extensive research on differences in aromas and flavors in gyokuro, matcha, and sencha teas. Their specific character and flavor profiles also vary with growing region, nutrients, production methods, quality, and brewing techniques. Today I enjoyed a non-alcoholic version, a mocktail, as they’re called. Listening to the cocktail bartender Manabu Ito, I learned about the development process, which differs from alcoholic beverages. The fascinating explanation described a long, long journey.

I learned, too, that every moment of the journey matters. “Getting across a striking ‘sense of green tea’ means you have to avoid any compromise in the tea selection process.” Much research also goes into how to extract flavor from the tea leaves. Teas offering different tastes on the first, second and third infusions are blended—the challenge of delving deeply into limitless possibilities, one after another, is a daily pursuit at the company lab. Of their many successes, the creation put before me is this Aohoji Lemonade (1,400 yen).

It combines the depth of Yame tea with the fresh, fruity aromas suggesting pineapple, lemon, and more. The glass is tastefully adorned with vibrant maple leaves. From my viewpoint in this Ginza tearoom, where one can see teakettles and utensils, and even Oribe dishware, all this created the feel of an unfolding early summer scene.

My next drink is the Li Shan Oolong Tea and Passion Fruit Cocktail (1,400 yen), made with Li Shan tea, a high mountain oolong tea from Taiwan with a fruity character, and tropical fruit. As I’m enjoying the fresh, robust aroma and sour notes, the startling delicacy of the tea fills my mouth—an impression both unexpected and vivid. Just as layering colors can create new colors and layering sounds can create unexpected rhythms, the characteristics of this tea and this fruit generate a series of surprising flavors.

“Mixology,” Ito tells me, “is a world of unexpected combinations and discoveries. We pursue endless explorations to present something that communicates the vividness of flavors and aromas, the way paintings and movies communicate visual impressions.” This is the essence of any art that awakens the senses.

Drawn here by the work of Tokujin Yoshioka, whose eyes are turned to the light of the natural world, I’ve toured GINZA SIX and encountered works by people at work in spheres of creativity attuned to their links to nature. Here I’ve encountered art in the form of poems that can be worn and that lodge in the heart, like stories that unwind in the mind, scene after scene.

I take these resonances to heart and venture out into the street. The rain has lifted, unveiling a blue sky above. The enveloping summer air offers both pleasure and promise.

《 Prismatic Cloud 》Tokujin Yoshioka
For more information
《 Living Canyon 》Patrick Blanc
For more information

Text: Noriko Kawakami Photos: Sohei Oya Edit: Yuka Okada(81)

editors_kawakami_noriko

川上典李子

记者。经过设计杂志"AXIS"编辑部独立。取材于艺术,工艺的作家以设计专业为中心,继续在国内外的介绍。包括巴黎,装饰美术馆"Japon Japonismes.Objets inspirés,1867-2018"展客人馆长在内,也正通过展览会以及作品审查传设计,艺术的魅力。在作为asoshieitodirekuta自2007年的开馆时候起关系到企划的21_21 DESIGN SIGHT,举行在2008年对展览会导演邀请吉冈德仁先生的"第二·自然"展。

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2020.07.08 UP