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b. 1972, Japan

Chiharu Shiota Biography

Chiharu Shiota's art 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 Chiharu Shiota confronts her own experiences by cultivating special spaces with a physical and emotional passage in mind.

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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 Chiharu 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. Chiharu'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 of Chiharu Shiota's artwork 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 Chiharu 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.

Chiharu 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 Chiharu Shiota's 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, Chiharu's use of black yarn and symbolic objects pointed to the inexplicability of the universe and pain.

Chiharu 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. 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.

Chloe Mandryk | Ocula | 2017

Chiharu Shiota Featured Artworks

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The Key in the Hand by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaThe Key in the Hand, 2015C-print
195 x 295 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Protect by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaProtect, 2018Watercolour, oil pastel and thread on paper
36 x 48 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Asleep by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaAsleep, 2018Watercolour, oil pastel and thread on paper
36 x 48 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Hold by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaHold, 2018Watercolour, oil pastel and thread on paper
36 x 48 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Mirror by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaMirror, 2018Watercolour, oil pastel and thread on paper
36 x 48 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Lie Down by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaLie Down, 2018Watercolour, oil pastel and thread on paper
36 x 48 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Cell by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaCell, 2020Watercolour, crayon and thread on paper
24 x 17 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea Contact Gallery
Skin by Chiharu Shiota contemporary artwork
Chiharu ShiotaSkin, 2018White thread on grey canvas, triptych
140 x 240 cm
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Templon

Chiharu Shiota Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Chiharu Shiota, Inner Universe at Templon, Paris
Closed
30 May–25 July 2020 Chiharu Shiota Inner Universe Templon, 28 Grenier Saint-Lazare, Paris28 Grenier Saint-Lazare, Paris
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, From the Paper to the Wall at Templon, Brussels
Closed
6 June–26 July 2019 Group Exhibition From the Paper to the Wall Templon, BrusselsBrussels
Contemporary art exhibition, Chiharu Shiota, Black Rain at Templon, Brussels
Closed
24 April–1 June 2019 Chiharu Shiota Black Rain Templon, BrusselsBrussels

Chiharu Shiota Represented By

Chiharu Shiota In Ocula Magazine

Paris Gallery Weekend: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Paris Gallery Weekend: Exhibitions to See By Tessa Moldan, Paris

Between 2 and 5 July 2020, Paris Gallery Weekend brings together the best of the city's art scene for its seventh edition. This Ocula Lowdown presents a selection of highlights to catch.

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Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem Ocula Report Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem By Diana d’Arenberg, Hong Kong

Ocula contributor Diana d'Arenberg gives her annual post-mortem of Hong Kong's Art Basel week, running through some of the highs and lows of the fair's seventh edition, which opened to the public from 29 to 31 March 2019.

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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 By Tessa Moldan, Echigo-Tsumari

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 By Zara Sigglekow, Melbourne

I started using string to make three-dimensional lines. For me, it’s making a drawing in the air. I can make lines in space like I would in drawings on paper.

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Chiharu Shiota 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 12 June 2018, Wallpaper*

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 24 July 2017, Wallpaper*

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 16 July 2017, Peter Corboy I Designboom

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 26 January 2017, Colossal

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...

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