Tetsuro Kano, a tree as a city
Yuka Tsuruno Gallery; 21 January to 25 February
Architectural miniatures constructed by sentient caterpillars and art-fan hummingbirds with a penchant for mid-century Calder mobiles furnish much of the Yuka Tsuruno Gallery in T-Art Complex, Tokyo. Set out over two spaces, the exhibition can be roughly categorised into three suites of work: assemblage sculpture, mobiles and collage drawings. What ties it all together is an abundant playfulness that is underpinned by a finely attuned attentiveness to all things compositional, material and colour-savvy. Few things feel so giddyingly joyful and yet so achingly delicate in their precision.
With a non-hierarchical approach to material choices Kano blends gold with twigs, plastic with metal, and crystals with glass. This democratic playing field sets free a variety of associations based on shape and colour, weight and angle, density and surface. The sculptural works are the most compelling pieces, with the smaller of the two rooms devoted to the mobiles. These floating networks read like traced dragonfly pathways constructed with found materials through the devotional acts of the ebullient. A sort of faith in the majesty of movement rendered hapticly with objects elevated to spiritual assertion through selection and orientation along pathways of action.
The pieces mounted on plinths are more structural and hint at utility while arguably evading it at the same time. They bring to mind the French artist Hubert Duprat’s symbiotic/collaborative art process with caddisfly larvae, only in a tree as a city there are no actual third party animal partners and the constructions are more monumental than domestic. This monumentalism registers as devotional rather than as an affliction of scale. It is an honouring of the beauty of things to be found at hand, of the whimsical interplay between strength and delicacy, and of the refocusing of one’s attention to the immediacy of the spatially and temporality that exists within one’s own parameters of bodily register. These are all objects to be embraced, on the one hand, and entered into on the other. To do the latter requires a redirection of focus, an alteration of perspective, a decreased delimiting of scope. Kano guides us in with dexterity and an artistic portal created of jewel-like intrigue and organic familiarity.
The works are also fulcrumatic, in that they temper the artificial with the natural. They provide for a salient poetic of balance that extends beyond the visible. Branches, twigs and sticks evoke the passage of time, ecologies, seasons and an animal control over plant lice. Elsewhere, fishing tackle, wires and thread evoke a gathering and entrapment. Gravity is everywhere, not only bearing its weight upon the forms but as a material within their composition. More than just complicit, it is participatory within and around the works in the same way the artist’s hand is, only continuously so, well beyond the artist’s involvement.
The 2D collage drawings work in a similar filex to the sculptures, only they tend to the provisional rather than the fully articulated. Accumulations of torn tape, stickers and finely drawn lines create more fulsome forms, bringing to mind clouds or mountains, without the flowing interiors or filigree scaffolding of the 3D works. If the sculptures are the architectural posturing of the infinitesimal then the collages are their counterpoint in picturesque landscape imagery. Intricacy abounds across all categories and implicates the artist in a residual presence. Care is archived in the execution of the works, imbuing the room with an hallucinogenic aura of labours, like the vibratory remnant of energies inculcated in a termites nest, an ant hill or a rabbit warren.
I found this show to be riveting at both a level of beauty for the very material presence of the works created and a level of metaphysical meditation that drew in a realm of invisible and intangible forces and ideas that sat in equal countenance with the listed pieces on the gallery roomsheet. Another fine example of contemporary poetics at play in the art scene of Tokyo this month, and a graciously gratifying exhibition to experience.