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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Chiharu Shiota

b. 1972, Japan

Chiharu Shiota's installations make the ineffable space between feeling and language material. Motivated by the omnipotence of memory, a signature medium of the Japanese artist's multi-disciplinary practice is yarn. In a conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2016, Shiota said of her use of yarn, 'It is soft and I use it like a mirror of my feelings... Yarn has tension like a human relationship.' As such Shiota confronts her own experiences by cultivating special spaces with a physical and emotional passage in mind.

Shiota's early studies at Kyoto Seika University, Japan were accompanied by a semester exchange to the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, Australia, where her aims shifted towards amalgamating painting, performance and the body. No longer satisfied with art for art's sake, the next step for Shiota after Kyoto was Germany and an intense period of study under artist Marina Abramović, known for her performance practice that tests physical and emotional thresholds. Shiota's time with Abramović seeded clarity in her practice in both concept and approach, now prioritising the relationship between memory and objects as well as the power of absence. Her newfound ethos was apparent in her performance, Try and Go Home (1997), where she dug a cavity in the earth and rolled naked into and out of the space. Here, her interest in displacement and the affectivity of positive and negative space was born. In her conversation with Ocula Magazine, Shiota said, 'I think art is primarily about the eye. It is important to see art, and then have feelings, and then see meaning. Not come up with the meaning first.' Now settled in Berlin, more recent installations by Shiota are characterised by a mixture of performance, sculpture and drawing in space with found objects mostly woven into yarn-webs. From a collection of mismatched shoes to suitcases, dresses, keys, pages from a book, bed frames and doors, the materials she introduces have lived elsewhere but are summoned as an artery for a personal and collective psychological experience.

When Shiota suspends mementos in tessellating string, the viewer is led to think about both containment and protection. The Key in the Hand, presented at the 2015 Venice Biennale in the Japan Pavilion, carried this sentiment. In The Key in the Hand, plumes of red yarn were dotted with keys. These inverted waves floated above a series of boats like hands. While line and materiality are obvious keynotes in her work, colour is critical. It's not difficult to imagine that Shiota's continued use of red is emblematic of a journey, the movement of blood through our veins or the 'fated path' red string represents in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cultures. Red couples positivity and pathos. For example, in a red yarn installation Dialogue From DNA (2004) we are attune to both loss and the inevitability of change.

Shiota exclusively selects red, black or white yarn for the pregnant and hollowed spaces she creates. The metaphor is not didactic, her audience is invited to associate meaning or feeling with colour. Black has historically accompanied works exploring illness and death, such as Conscious Sleep (2016), for the 20th Biennale of Sydney, whereas snow-like threads swathe boats with a hopeful energy in Where are we going? (2017) and Memory of the Ocean (2017), both displayed at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, Paris. Prior to working almost exclusively with red, Shiota's use of black yarn and symbolic objects pointed to the inexplicability of the universe and pain. Works such as Memory of Skin (2000) saw inordinately long dresses hung high and constantly dripping with water. These dresses were a metaphor for cyclical thoughts. Installations that incorporated empty beds, such as During Sleep (2000), heralded a similar feeling. In these symbolic objects, thoughtfully framed by colour, the viewer finds cues to birth, sickness and death.

Shiota's life experiences—of leaving her country and facing illness as a young woman—are woven into her practice, which, in its grace, welcomes others to co-exist.

Chloe Mandryk | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

State of Being (Books) by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaState of Being (Books), 2019 White thread, metal frame, books
120 x 80 x 45 cm
Templon
State of Being by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaState of Being, 2018 White thread, metal frame
60 x 60 x 40 cm
Templon
State of Being (Chair and Paper) by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaState of Being (Chair and Paper), 2016 Metal frame, thread, chair and paper
220 x 150 x 90 cm
Templon
State of Being (Abstract) by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaState of Being (Abstract), 2018 Red thread, metal frame
60 x 60 x 40 cm
Templon
In the Hand by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaIn the Hand, 2018 Bronze and brass wire
34 x 28 x 36 cm
Templon
State of Being (Map) by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaState of Being (Map), 2018 White thread, metal frame, map
120 x 80 x 45 cm
Templon
State of Being (Kimono) by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaState of Being (Kimono), 2012 Metal, black threads and orange kimono
150 x 100 x 80 cm
Templon
Skin by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork Chiharu ShiotaSkin, 2018 White thread on grey canvas, triptych
140 x 240 cm
Templon

Current Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Chiharu Shiota, Black Rain at Templon, Brussels
Open Now
24 April–1 June 2019 Chiharu Shiota Black Rain Templon, Brussels

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem Ocula Report Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem 6 Apr 2019 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

Although Art Basel in Hong Kong is the youngest of the Art Basel fairs, and a relative newcomer to the international art fair circuit, it has now become a major attraction for collectors and galleries from around the world. The seventh edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong saw thousands of art courtesans and benefactors kick off the week with a string...

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Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale: The World's Largest Outdoor Art Festival Ocula Report Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale: The World's Largest Outdoor Art Festival 30 Aug 2018 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

Running since 2000, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, the largest outdoor art festival in the world, injects art into the landscape of Japan's snow country, littered in the summertime with phosphorescent, green rice paddies that lie flat beneath the mountains of the southern part of Niigata prefecture. Rather than assigning each edition with a new...

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Chiharu Shiota Ocula Conversation Chiharu Shiota Artist, Japan and Berlin

Chiharu Shiota is a Japanese-born Berlin-based artist best known for her installations of entangled webs of yarn that, coupled with objects, transform the gallery into a liminal space. Representing Japan in the 2015 56th Venice Biennale, her work A Key in the Hand (2015), comprised of wooden boats and suspended threads dotted with keys, was one of...

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In Related Press

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Chiharu Shiota weaves past, present and future at an 18th-century Yorkshire chapel Related Press Chiharu Shiota weaves past, present and future at an 18th-century Yorkshire chapel Wallpaper* : 12 June 2018

When she was nine, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota saw the burnt-out, soundless remains of her neighbour's piano after a house fire. The image stayed with her. Now, it has inspired a haunting new work, rendered in her preferred medium, webs of twisted thread.

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Seeing red: a new monograph gets under the skin of installation artist Chiharu Shiota Related Press Seeing red: a new monograph gets under the skin of installation artist Chiharu Shiota Wallpaper* : 24 July 2017

Under The Skin is the first monograph documenting the work of Chiharu Shiota - the renowned Osaka-born artist, celebrated for her monumental maze-like installations that often look like a bloodbath has taken place in the gallery.

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Weaving new worlds: designboom speaks to Chiharu Shiota Related Press Weaving new worlds: designboom speaks to Chiharu Shiota Peter Corboy I Designboom : 16 July 2017

Memory and nostalgia. Light and color. Beauty and loss. Through her use of intricately threaded installations, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota intertwines all of these and more, imbuing both the site of her works — and the objects suspended within — with a powerful, dark and dreamlike potency.Born in Osaka in 1972, the Berlin based...

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A New Large-Scale Installation of Boats and Tangled Thread by Artist Chiharu Shiota Related Press A New Large-Scale Installation of Boats and Tangled Thread by Artist Chiharu Shiota Colossal : 26 January 2017

The newest installation by Chiharu Shiota is composed of nearly 300,000 yards of white yarn, woven to encapsulate the center, ground floor, and ten windows of Le Bon Marché. The exhibition, titled Where are we going?, will feature 150 boats within the French department store’s center, and the ground-floor exhibition will house a giant threaded wave...

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