Group Show “The Mingei” curated by Nicolas Trembley, Oct 9 – Nov 15, 2020.
在香港最早亮起電燈的光明街上，坐在盛載著65年歷史的德如茶餐廳外，悠閑地喝著港式奶茶，在陽光普照的下午，面前看見「民藝」二字，穿過玻璃看見懸掛著的古舊和服以及BORO(襤褸) 布藝，彷彿回到日本東京的Amuse Museum，擦了擦眼睛，原來是對面的SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery 正在舉辦名為「民藝」的展覽。
It was a balmy afternoon on Kwong Ming Street, where it marks the first lit of electric lights of the city. I was enjoying the signature Hong Kong milk tea at the outdoor seating of the 65-year-old Tak Yu Restaurant. Across the road, the title of “folk art” caught my eyes. The antique kimonos and BORO textiles behind the vitrines recalled my memories as if I had traveled back to the Amuse Museum in Tokyo…Then I found myself arriving at the “The Mingei” exhibition at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery.
自從兩年前在Amuse Museum被「用之美」The Beauty of Practicality的概念所感動，就更加著迷於日本哲學家柳宗悦先生所提倡的「美之法門」。
Since encounting the concept of “The Beauty of Practicality” at the Amuse Museum two years ago, I have been getting fascinated by “The Dharma Gate of Beauty” introduced by Japanese philosopher Soetsu Yanagi.
Yanagi advocated the Mingei Movement in the late 1920s. Based on handcrafted art, the movement originally finds beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. Yanagi has a core concern for the functional qualities of objects, which he described as an “honesty with regards to their intended use”, leading to the well-known expression of “YOnoBI” or functional beauty. Perceived through intuition, the inherent beauty of Mingei arts can be enjoyed by all walks of life.
Nicolas Trembley，來自瑞士，策劃群展 「民藝」，他著迷於設計與當代藝術的互動。
Nicolas Trembley from Switzerland, curator of the Group Show “The Mingei”, interested in the interaction between design and contemporary art as well as the exhibition displays.
N: This exhibition is about looking in different ways. It’s also about looking at the past and realizing that Mingei is also full of contemporary values. Today we are interested in slowing down our lives, taking time out, being less polluting…Topics like ecology and recycling are part of the Mingei philosophy.
Mingei is about respecting the environment, as well as taking time to establish relationships with objects. It’s really about finding beauty everywhere. I’m interested in the movement because it’s about respecting the others and our differences. Learning that there is more than one way of seeing, collecting or evaluating. I am working in the contemporary art field and Taka Ishii is a contemporary art gallery. The bridges found between the past and today in this project is somehow inspiring.
T: Knowing that this is the 4th curation about the Mingei movement, why are you so keen on Mingei?
N: I think the Mingei movement is very accurate today! It enhances craft techniques that have been re-evaluated in the current contemporary art such as ceramic and weaving.
I like the idea to give everyday objects the possibility to be looked at differently – It’s a very positive philosophy that enlightens life!
N: The back pads are called “Bandori” and were popular in north-eastern Japan. Like cushions, farmers would put them on their backs for protection. Sometimes, they were made as presents for special ceremonies. Perceived like sculptures, they are part of the classic Mingei vocabulary.
N: The rain capes are called “Mino” and are often made of straw. They are interesting because they somehow look African, pointing to syncretism in craft techniques that you can find internationally! Mino can also be received as a fashion item.
N: In my first Mingei show I decided to include Boros. They are cotton textiles patched and stitched years after years, as in those days, farmers could not afford to buy cotton. In my first project, the public thought the framed Boros were artworks by contemporary young artists. The reception of Boros has changed over time. In fact, they were not considered as Mingei objects originally.
N: Basho-fu is a type of hand-woven textile from Okinawa made from a type of wild banana. As they say on the Island guide, “The fibers are extremely thin and delicate, which is why the production of basho-fu requires a longer period of time compared to other similar textiles. During the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom, when Okinawa was an independent nation, basho-fu was used for royal attire and was often offered as tributes to the Japanese and Chinese governments. Because it does not stick to the skin even in the hot, humid weather of Okinawa, basho-fu was also a popular material for clothes worn by commoners.” It is very simple and minimal. Its production has continued to survive over generations and is now designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs.
SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery創辦人石井孝之先生説：「我們希望創造一個實驗性的藝術商業空間，超越「畫廊」和「商店」的界線，每隔約兩個月，便找來藝術家或設計師，讓他們自由地發揮空間設計、規劃展出的作品以及陳列商品。我以SHOP(商店)命名，便可以為內容打開更廣泛的可能性，例如時裝、室內裝飾品、古董。」
N: Among the works exhibited, I really love the Ainu coats with their geometric patterns. The Ainu people who have lived in and around Hokkaido produced original motifs or patterns in their lives, which are deeply related to nature and their religious belief.
At the moment there is an exhibition at the Folk Art Museum in Tokyo focusing on the Ainu people’s creation and coats. Soetsu Yanagi’s “Ainu Crafts and Culture Exhibition” in 1941 was the first exhibition of Ainu crafts at an art museum. Their craftworks have been a significant part of Mingei.
“SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery aims to create an experimental retail space that transcends the boundary between “gallery” and “shop” by having different artists and designers freely explore the spatial design and exhibit selected works and other products in approximately two-month cycles.
By naming the space SHOP, it opens possibilities to exhibit broader contents like fashion, interior goods, antiques among others.” Takayuki Ishii, founder of SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, said.
T: For example, I found that these bashôfu fabric sets are so affordable which take a few hundred Hong Kong dollars, what do you expect people to handle them when they bring them home?
N: I hope that people can consider them as artworks. To me, they remind me of different abstractions in paintings. They can be framed or stored in a nice box.
COSMIC WONDER “Harmonic Meditation”, SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Sep 21 – Nov 10, 2019.
SHOP TIG致力探索和展示多種媒介，而12月的展覽「勅使河原 蒼風 x 野口勇」將展出花道作品和設計師家具。回想起我第一次走進這空間是2019年，當時正在展覽由COSMIC WONDER策展的Harmonic Meditation，一直印象深刻，一年後再來到這地方，今次要把握機會，相約訪問，談談有關衣物修復的The Awakening Universe企劃，大家會和我一樣期待嗎？
SHOP TIG has continued to explore and present diverse mediums, including Ikebana art and designer furniture in the upcoming December program – “Sofu Teshigahara x Isamu Noguchi”. Looking back, my first visit to this art space was in 2019. My impression towards the “Harmonic Meditation” exhibition curated by COSMIC WONDER is vivid. It would be my pleasure to discuss “The Awakening Universe” project with their designers. Would you be equally excited for the interview?
SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery Address: Shops 4A & 4B, UG/F, Bo Fung Mansion, No.1 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Tel: +852 3619 0011 Gallery hours: 11:00 – 19:00 / Closed on Monday