Genta Ishizuka: Polyphase Membrane

2019. 7. 2 [tue] - 9.21 [sat] 11:00am - 7:00pm (Saturdays until 5:00pm) Closed on Sundays, Mondays, holidays, & August 11 - 19 (Open on July 21)

 ARTCOURT Gallery is pleased to present Polyphase Membrane, a solo exhibition by Genta Ishizuka, an artist working primarily in the traditional art of urushi lacquer.
 This exhibition will feature about 15 new works, including the artist’s tallest piece from his Surface Tactility series, standing at 150 cm and created using the kanshitsu-technique of lacquering; new works that take the three-dimensionally curving “membranes” and turn them into semi-sculptural pieces that show a new approach to handling space; Untitled (Hung in a Box), made with gold leaf and an antique masu; Dual Phase, a two-dimensional piece, transcendent with its lustrous surface that shows a depth that expands on a cosmic scale; and a monotype that will try to join the steps of the urushi process together as layers of membranes. This exhibition will present the thoughts and work of an artist exploring the ideas of the “surface” and “membrane” with unique sculptural urushi works weaving back and forth between the second and third dimensions.

 Genta Ishizuka studied Urushi Lacquering at the Kyoto City University of Arts, then after participating in an exchange program at the Royal College of Art, London and graduating with an MFA in the late 2000s, he began exhibiting his works as an artist. While exploring various forms of expression with urushi as his main material, he became fascinated with the “gloss that lies within the urushi”. He unified his ideas and his artwork, focusing on the possibilities of creating abstract forms with the phenomena of the material, such as the new ways of perceptions that the glossiness creates, and the work’s “membrane” whose presence sparks the viewer’s senses. Ishizuka has been deftly capturing the consciousness and sensations going back and forth between the borderline that is the transparent “membrane” distinct to urushi. By reflecting the painted surface and space to the viewer, he is working to reach an uncharted world brought about by this gloss.
 The works by Ishizuka represent the shape of a thing as a membrane using urushi, but everything from the perception of the work to the depth lying within that gloss is also encompassed in the artwork, thus these pieces possess multiple “phases”. In recent years, he has been interested in polishing the gloss to a mirror-like surface and incorporating the reflected world into his work, keying in on what is in between and around this membrane.

 Surface Tactility (2015- ) is a series of sculptures made with a range of spheres creating a fluctuating three-dimensionally curved surface, which is then given a kanshitsu-technique finish, creating an autonomous “membrane”. He utilizes styrene foam balls and elastic fabric to create the foundation of his works that may look like a torso, or appear as if energy is expanding from within them, and the glossiness of the surface tension emphasizes these shapes. The two-dimensional works that use maki-e (gold lacquer) technique which he has been using since early in his career, are made with pieces of metal such as washers, needles, and cutter blades, arranged to look like countless stars drifting in pitch-black darkness. The viewer will not only become aware of the expanse and depth of this cosmic image, but will also feel how it is charged with the question of the origin of matter.

 As an urushi artist, Ishizuka has also honed his sense for sculpting forms by actively connecting with the material’s history along with the everyday implements and craftwork of the past, which in turn deepened his interest in the relationship between this medium and religious faith. He began to develop a new series in which he covers the curving surfaces of semi-sculptural works with gold leaf, and hangs them inside Edo and Meiji period masu (measuring box) acquired from antique stores. Untitled (Hung in a Box) was made after he discovered kakebotoke (votive Buddhist plaques) and learned about the custom of praying for prosperity to a sculpture of Ebisu (the Japanese god of fishermen and tradesmen) placed inside of a masu. These pieces are also connected historically to how Buddhist figures made with the kanshitsu-technique were typically finished with gold leaf.
 The craft and wares of urushi cultivated through daily life, mainly in the East Asian region, have achieved a high standard in Japan, becoming well-known across the world. It can be said that behind the process of thoroughly polishing and finishing with no trace of any brushstrokes, there lies the Japanese mentality of placing importance on how the quality of the base will reveal itself on the surface as color and glossiness. Recently, Ishizuka has been continuing to deepen his creative awareness, from the things both real and unreal reflected in the gloss, shifting towards the inner quality and essence that one can begin to see through the presence of the “membrane”.

 Last year, Ishizuka had his first solo exhibition in London. This year, he was selected as a finalist for the Loewe Craft Prize, and received the Best Young Artist Award by the City of Kyoto. In this exhibition, he will be showing ambitious new works produced while garnering global attention. There will be an artist talk held with Mami Kataoka, a researcher and curator of contemporary art in Japan and Asia. Continuing to confront the polished urushi form and the “membrane”, Ishizuka can be expected to create artwork that will open the doors to a new frontier.

Related events

  • 7.21 [sun] 2:00pm - 4:00pm *This event has passed.
    Artist Talk [ Mami Kataoka (Deputy Director & Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum) x Genta Ishizuka ]
    *RSVP required for the Artist Talk (Email call +81-6-6354-5444)
  • 7.21 [sun] 4:00pm - 5:00pm *This event has passed.

  • With cooperation from Kyoto City University of Arts


Genta Ishizuka