We are pleased to present, Kuu / 空, a solo exhibition by New York-based artist, Miya Ando, at MAKI Gallery / Tennoz, Tokyo. Ando depicts 'shinrabansho' (森羅万象; all things in nature, the whole of creation) using various materials such as metal, cloth and wood as her 'canvas'. She creates a variety of artworks, including paintings, sculptures and installations. Nevertheless, consistent across all of her work is the coexistence of different cultures and elements. This stems from her Japanese and American parentage, through which she attained a deep understanding of both cultures. The perspectives on nature and on the world that she has thereby nurtured enrich her work.
The motifs chosen by Ando, such as Unkai (雲海; a sea of clouds) and Kumo (雲; cloud), appear to have form but are essentially formless; they are phenomena, so to speak. It is almost as if her work is asking us whether what we see really exists. In fact, clouds, which are an accumulation of water vapour, constantly change their shape and never stay the same. Moreover, these motifs are painted on hard, unyielding metal. Ando sublimates these different elements in one work, reminding us the fleeting nature of existence, its beauty and fragility.
Even metal is subject to transformation over time. However, Ando is drawn to the light that lies hidden therein. In the artist's own words, 'I'm very interested in metal as a medium. While its physical properties to not change very much, it reflects light differently depending on the viewer's movement, changing its appearance from moment to moment. Silver and aluminium reflect the world that lies before them but by doing so, they cease to exist. They become a kind of void.' The fact that the artist's ancestors were sword craftsmen in Okayama Prefecture, Japan, also plays a part in her profound understanding of metal.
Ando has also begun incorporating traditional indigo dye in her works this year. The deep colour of the dye recalls the night, the sea and the universe. It seems to be nothing and yet envelops everything. Indigo is also a traditional Japanese colour and for the artist, it is the colour she associates with Japan, especially Okayama Prefecture, where she lived as a child.
The title of this exhibition, Kuu / 空, is a comprehensive concept that describes Ando's work. The artist has explained that, 'Since all things are impermanent and have no fixed nature, they are empty of inherent existence. I am also interested in Kuu as sky, a vast space of voidness or emptiness that is an opportunity for anything to enter. Kuu/空 as an element of aether/air/void(*1) has always been quite interesting to me and can be the context for the yakisugi works, silver mirror works, indigo paintings, all are investigations into this idea.' At this exhibition which will be held on an unprecedented scale, the gallery space will be filled with water, earth, wood, fire, sky, cloud, vapor, forest, moon and galaxy, woven from Ando's unique sensibilities. This year, many museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), have decided to acquire her work for their collections. We are delighted to introduce an artist who is gaining such recognition worldwide and we invite you to take this opportunity to fully experience her art.
*1 To the four classical elements of Ancient Greek philosophy – air, fire, earth, water – Aristotle proposed the addition of ʻaetherʼ. According to Ayurvedic traditions in India, the five basic elements are ʻair, wind, fire, water, earthʼ. The basic elements according to Buddhism are ʻearth, water, fire, wind, air ( 空 )ʼ, with ʻair ( 空 )ʼ representing ʻvoidʼ.
Press release courtesy of MAKI.