WAKABA Group Exhibition of Japanese Artists
Yuan Ru Gallery, Taipei
May 13 - July 9, 2023
In early summer, new shoots sway lightly in the wind

Text|Li-Hao Zhang

"He watched the fish swimming around, hiding among the plants, the fine vibrations of the water waves, and the whispering voices, broadcast in their rhythm, like a story from the universe..."
──Li Weijing "The Mermaid"

Since ancient times, no matter where it is, the relationship between humans and animals can be said to be closely related and inseparable. This is even more so in Japan, where animals occupy a considerable proportion and space, from daily life to cultural traditions. They are not only the protagonists of the most distinctive "Japanese food" dishes, such as Kobe beef, Matsusaka pork, Hokkaido king crab, etc., but also often a symbol of a city. In Nagano's Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park, you can see snow monkeys who love bathing just like humans; what's more, many animals also play an important role as "messenger of gods" (しんし), including the cattle of Tenmangu. , Inari Shrine’s foxes, etc. They not only guard the gods, but sometimes appear as the incarnations of the gods, conveying various types of messages to humans... and humans continue to observe human nature and reflect society through animals, and then Outline the diverse and intricate relationship between man and nature.

This "Wakaba: Joint Exhibition of Taiwanese and Japanese Artists" is based on this thinking. Five artists including Harada Shinro, Sakamoto Aiko, Fujiwara Ukiko, Shirata Yoshiya, and Xiao Yuehua were invited. Through their creations with different animal themes, Propose how humans face animals, and even think about life and ecosystems. The Japanese word for the title of the exhibition "Wakaba" is Wakaba, which originally means the newly grown young leaves of plants. It is taken from the allusion of the well-known Japanese haiku describing summer: "The young leaves sway lightly with the wind" (沉叶が风かぜにそよぐ) , to convey the optimistic expectation that the epidemic has finally subsided for several years and the world will start a new life.

He once served as the chief planner of the 2005 Aichi World Expo in Japan. In addition to being a first-class architect, he is also a guardian of animals. Not only are his architectural works based on the symbiosis and co-prosperity of all things, and the protection of the earth's environment, he joined Waseda University many years ago After the "Saijukai", a painting club for graduates of architecture, he is more active in conveying the idea of protecting endangered animals through artistic creation. This time, a number of polar bear-themed sketches fully demonstrated the intimate interaction between mother and child, while the other piece "Galaxy Railway" drew inspiration from Japanese manga artist Reiji Matsumoto's "Galaxy Railway 999", conveying that animals also We must pray together towards the future world.

As the son-in-law of Taiwan, Shirata Yoshiro also skillfully uses the rough, smooth or shiny material characteristics of rock paintings, and through the unique composition of various animal images combined with many human artifacts, the viewer is encouraged to be in the picture full of literary narratives. In the book, think about the way humans and animals should get along with each other. For example, "Brocade Blossoms", which is the largest in the exhibition, is based on the gorgeous decoration of Japanese wagashi, and puts various animals in a space like a multi-packet. While showing the beauty of order and rationality, it is also from another perspective. On the one hand, it also makes people reflect on whether our way of viewing, understanding and treating different animals is too rigid and single.

Inspired by the famous phrase of the Japanese haiku sage Matsuo Basho, "The sound of leaping and splashing water in the ancient pond" (古池や蛇飞び込む水の音), Fujiwara Ukiko adopts a special perspective of solving the problem of overlooking, and paints a dreamy space in bright red. In addition to splashing continuous ripples, the dynamic frog also splashes the sound of water in the ears of the viewers, making people feel as if they are in a strange time and space dimension, and can slowly appreciate the Zen interest contained in it.

Echoing the former, Sakamoto Aiko used blue mineral pigments such as azurite, ultramarine blue, and turquoise blue to depict young women and butterflies whose survival is threatened. The visual image gives people the illusion of walking into a quiet night. For example, the exhibited work "Hope" depicts a woman's side face on a canvas similar to a mosaic window in a church, with butterflies flying under it, conveying a quiet, gorgeous and religious inner state of mind.

Xiao Yuehua is the only Taiwanese artist in the exhibition. He creates with skilled Chinese color ink techniques, and deliberately selects puffer fish, tropical fish and other aquatic species for his paintings. Apart from being colorful, his works are often named after common auspicious words, not only It is closely connected with traditional culture and fully embodies people's desire for a peaceful and peaceful time.

It's early summer, and let us feel together, the new shoots are swaying lightly in the wind.
Exhibition Photos
Shizuo Harada
Yueh-Hua Shiao
Fujiwara Ukiko
Aiko Sakamoto
Hakuta Yoshuya