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HAPPENINGText: Amelia Ijiri

Celebration is a Japanese and Polish Contemporary Art Exhibition that is running from May 18th to June 23rd, 2019 at the following four venues across Kyoto: Kyoto Art Center, ROHM Theatre, The Terminal KYOTO and UNESCO World Heritage site of Nijo Castle as the special exhibition space. Celebration showcases the work of twenty-one emerging and mid-career contemporary artists whose works represent the world we live in and what we aspire to in the future while also reflecting on Poland and Japan’s last 100 years of diplomatic relations.

Yuriko Sasaoka, Gyro, Kyoto Art Center. Photo by Takeru Koroda © Kyoto Art Center

Collaboration and reflection are themes that run throughout the exhibition. By participating in a series of dialogues, artists are learning through each other and their artworks. One of this year’s highlights is Łukasz Surowiec’s “Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do,” which is a bird’s eye view of hands working to complete a Japanese translation of the title in calligraphy as a reflection on the value of labor in leisure and human action. In a separate workshop with Yuriko Sasaoka, a video installation artist who uses puppetery to humorously explore Buddhist resignation and European motifs, the artists’ collaboration examines unemployed people in order to create a new worldview.

Tomohiro Higashikage, Exist, Kyoto Art Center. Photo by Takeru Koroda © Kyoto Art Center

Another theme is modern-day mono no aware, which translates as “awareness of transience, as seen in shared sensitivity and a way of delicately perceiving shifts in the seasons and zeitgeist, then changing accordingly.” Throughout the Kyoto Art Center, which is a renovated former elementary school, Tomohiro Higashikage’s sculptures of rabbit hides adorn hallway window ledges and hedges. His life-like rabbit heads on posts of driftwood gaze at passersby.

Robert Kuśmirowski, Birdman, Kyoto Art Center. Photo by Takeru Koroda © Kyoto Art Center

On the terrace, Robert Kuśmirowski becomes “Birdman” in a performance art piece where the artist sits and squeaks in a human-sized birdhouse.

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