Fascinating world of Uranium glass
What do you imagine upon hearing the term “glass installation?” There are many installation exhibitions in museums, but one which is composed of only glass is rare to see. Hitoshi Kakizaki’s “Shape of Light” was an ambitious exhibition which was filled with glass works at the Hongo Shin Memorial Museum of Sculpture, Sapporo. Seeing such varied experiments of expression, you will realize the many possibilities of glass and how it is able to take so many various forms.
You can see the glass chair which was set on the step to the exhibition room. As the title of “Wakiagaru Isu (Welling-Up Chair),” the pile of glass tubes spout out like a fountain. It is radiant piece as if it is welcoming visitors.
In the dark, green light, the piece ”Series Rin –Flower (Water Lily)” like a firefly is launched and blossoms are hung in the air . Illusory light and subtle sway produce a silent space and you will forget the time for a while. If you gaze at each flower, you will notice that every petal has an irregular shape and rough cut, like broken glas. The forms of the water lilies are delicately different from one another.
There is a unique work which uses the transparent shadow of glass, in the next room. The titles are “DOGGIE” and “BIRDIE.” Making the surface by bonding small glass boards and shaping dogs and birds, he illuminates those from 3 directions to create the shadows. His previous work, “JIBWA,” had the same technique for bonding small glass pieces, but this creation of “shadow” is different from it. The idea of this work was born when he found his shadow made by the light reflected on the glass, during his work at night. He must enjoy this new experiment with transparent shadows. You could see his pure and highly motivated expression from these works.
In the corridor connecting the rooms, many different shapes of glass such as cubes, spheres, and columns are displayed in the case which looks like a preservation bottle. Not only Uranium glass, but you can also see the glass in which melted, luminous paint floats. These work, like a collection, show us a variety of faces depending on the shape and strength of the light. Some may look like plants, others are like minerals.
This corner explains the title “Shape of Light” clearly. Here, you could also find a “hand” motif which is often seen among Kakizaki’s exhibitions. Made of Uranium glass, smoothly curving lines and fainting light from a hand will make you feel warmth and bursts with his gentleness.
The most impressive work in this exhibition is the one set in another dark room; “series Rin- CUBE.”
Countless cubes are in the air. Arranged mirrors on both right and left sides make its spread limitless. The impression of this work may be changed if you see it from different angles. As if you are inside of the long tunnel or floating in the universal space…Your imagination would be stimulated one after another and you will have that feeling even after you come out from that room.
Through this exhibition, you might be amazed by varied expressions of glass as a material. Smooth and glossy glass gives us warmth and gentleness, however at the same time, it has the feeling of cool distance, too. The mysterious light of Uranium glass and luminous paints sometimes appears artificial and mechanical, but other times poetic and mystic. Combing with the element of mirror and light, the presentation of glass becomes deeper and deeper.
Hitoshi Kakizaki started as artisan of glass. After polishing his skill in a few Japanese studios, he won the Craft award of the competition of Sapporo Art Park. Upon winning this, he broadened his experiences in countries including Sweden, The United States, France, and Italy. He has had one man shows and introduced many art works. Works which were shown in foreign countries were often composed with different materials besides glass, such as wood and metal. Those styles were introspective and express the introspection. In 2004 he learned about Uranium glass when he came back to Japan. Having pushed his field with the themes of vessel, figure and human body, he continues to challenge new ways of expressing environment, imagined scenes, and producing space.
This exhibition would be one of the results from his investigation and also a process. With his certain skill and spirit of inquiry, he must be continuously seeking new possibilities of glass.
Hitoshi Kakizaki “Shape of Light”
Date: June 15th – August 25th, 2013
Opening hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Place: Hongo Shin Memorial Museum of Sculpture, Sapporo
Address: 4-12 Miyanomori, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Tel: 011 642 5709
Text: Eri Yamauchi
Translation: Fuyumi Saito
Photos: Seiji Yamagishi, Courtesy of Hongo Shin Memorial Museum of Sculpure, Sapporo