paper_tales

paper tales

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Feb 6 / Feb 27 – 2010 

Kyoko Ibe
Papyrus was the best material for writing until the Chinese invented papermaking around 200 BC. We Japanese learned the technique and developed it into a unique culture using paper not only for writing, but for almost all the purposes of living including clothing. Until the end of the 19th century, Japanese lived in houses with Shyoji screen windows covered with paper and Fusuma sliding doors made of wood and paper, and often wore clothes made of woven paper or thick soft leather-like paper cloth. A most famous Japanese philosopher in the 18th century wrote that paper was the most useful material in our lives. European scholars in the 19th century were interested in our unique lifestyle using paper as a multipurpose material and wrote that the Japanese culture was made of paper and wood. Since we introduced machine papermaking in the late 19th century, our lifestyle has radically changed. But we still keep some part of the old lifestyle in using paper in many ways that are not found in the western lifestyle. It is interesting that near 500 families in Japan are maintaining the tradition of Washi, the handmade papermaking, even in one of the most industrialized countries.

Paper’s three functions are called the “3W’s” which refers to writing, wrapping and wiping. Paper has supported civilization as an informational media for a long time. With the acceleration of the information age and the global spread of methods for paperless transmission of information, the contemporary role of paper as an informational medium has largely been substituted by new technologies. While the functional role of paper has diminished, the aesthetic role of paper as a spiritual medium is more apparent and has regenerated into an art medium.

Moving beyond the functional aspects of remaking Washi, my works illuminate the culture and voices of the people themselves, who lived in preindustrial eras, and upon reflection, elicit their re-formation in the present. In this way, old Washi and documents, asleep for years and now at my side, secure a place as a contemporary art transmitting the meaning and the aesthetic of Japanese culture to the world.

In the current age, when the fate of humanity is tied to war on the environment, those people who wish to coexist with nature, are vocalizing their concern for the transience of the present in the dark portrayals of the near future. My work was born of knowledge of the cultural past of Washi, and on reflecting upon the beauty of harvests reaped from the splendors of nature, and of the law of nature as governed by the universe. By encountering these, it is my hope that the power for a brighter future is reaffirmed.

Mohamed Abouelnaga
Vetrina
With Japanese artist Kyoko Ibe, artist Mohamed Abouelnaga presents a new series entitled "Vetrina"; artworks that include a group of paintings and photography in which he blends the techniques of papermaking with layers of various materials and different methods of coloring and collage with digital and manual techniques that constitute a new phase that adds to his earlier work. We will see the artist offering his personal vision of many shop windows which he photographed during his travels in different countries.

Abouelnaga takes on the concept of shop windows for its consuming message and its political and social implications because, usually, shop windows reflect the culture of community. Moreover, they reconstruct the human form as they offer a parallel reality that seems more devoted to appearance rather than substance. It is a vision that Abouelnaga created under the influences of many local and global cultures that mingled in his conscience only to give an ample space for imagination and creativity in his unceasing search which led to the discoveries of a new common language between two worlds, namely the so-called " world premiere " and "third world". Despite their different shapes between here and there, between the East and West, shop mirrors are strong and stimulating icons that reflect an extended project speaking the language of society and the ongoing culture of the consumer market, which artificially distorts the facade of human reality.

Participating artists
Kyoko Ibe, Mohamed Abouelnaga

 

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