About the Exhibition - (BE IF YOU CAN, EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE, LET IT BE)
Otani’s exhibit, Narubekunaranare Narazarumonarubekenya Narareccho (Be if you can, even if you don’t have to be, let it be), at Galerie Perrotin in New York, is on view from October 29th through December 23rd.
“Otani Workshop’s bestiary is a world in itself, a world in which dreams and tales converge as well as fantasies and daydreams, a world in which the queenly imagination and the kingly gesture triumph, in which forces and forms meet.” - Galerie Perrotin (source)
“I want to create objects that are close to living souls, we have the word yorishiro in Japanese, which refers to an object representative of a divine spirit. I use my characters to give physical space for some spirits to dwell in.” - Otani Workshop (source)
The title of the exhibit is from a book Otani read as a child about a child that uses a spell to turn into a Raccoon.
“The title’s selection for this exhibition reinforces the transformative quality of banal materials into artworks in a manner that both admits their humble nature and respects it as the artist’s aesthetic pursuit.” - Galerie Perrotin (source)
The impressive thing about this exhibit (other than his incredible imagination) is the range of materials Otani uses to create his work.
“His wide-ranging objects span clay jars to large-scale bronze sculptures and often combine found materials, such as iron and wooden pallets. He incorporates discarded materials and objects— abandoned doors, boxes—into his scenographic installations.” - Galerie Perrotin (source)
“My practice is about transforming a bare material into something that has an appearance of life. Such a way of perceiving the world has something to do with the idea of animism in Japan, which is the belief that all things have a spirit. I want to create a work that has a spirit of its own.” — Otani Workshop (source)
Although Otani is known for his sculptures, he’s recently focused on creating more paintings.
“I think my sculptures evolve as I paint more.” - Otani Workshop (source)
The exhibit brings me feelings of comfort as I explore each ‘display.’ This is probably due to Otani’s childlike approach to his art, where he focuses on feeling rather than meaning.
“His approach is also reminiscent of the directness of children’s art, a quality emphasized by the simplistic formal language and childish features of his subjects, which are themselves imbued with a brazen vulnerability.” - Galerie Perrotin (source)
Video of the Exhibit
To see a walkthrough of the exhibit, skip ahead to 7:05 in the video below.
About the Artist - Otani Workshop
Otani Workshop graduated from Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts in Japan.
“Otani Workshop does not refer to a collective of artists, but to a singular, an eminently singular sculptor who has become the leading representative of Japanese ceramics.” - Galerie Perrotin (source)
Otani chose the name “workshop” as an homage to the Japanese education system’s art classes during elementary school that are titled ‘workshops.’
“I feel that the word ‘workshop’ is associated with a sense of less-than-art and childhood. When I created a boy who is lost in thought with his arms crossed, I paid attention to the sense of being lost in thought. In that process, I started to imagine what the figure’s background was, and that’s how my narratives are born.” - Otani Workshop (source)