The illusions of going beyond expectations


The ‘Art Act’ cultural association has been, for years, in a close cooperation with the Japan Foundation, and nears 100 events organised jointly with it. The latest project is a joint exhibition of the young plastic artists of Tokyo and Cluj, having as theme the already classic expression ‘I think I can.’ The most ironic perspective is provided by the installation exhibited by sculptor Adrian Cojocaru: a brain in a box, meant to be exported. This can also be regarded as an allusion to the cases of karoshi (death by overworking, in Japanese) whose incidence increases in the Nippon archipelago, which also claimed the lives of youths coming from Romania. Or, in mirror, the case of the Japanese student that came to put her brain in the service of Romanians.On the other hand, a less cynical interpretation would see the installation in the light of the exhibition’s title, as an illustration of the social benefits of globalisation: the migration of labour force. Beyond its symbolic dimension, displaying an internal organ of the body also suggests the decomposition of the person, which is reduced to its social functionalities. There are many Romanian sculptures on display in this exhibition, at Casa Matia of Cluj (the headquarters of the Art and Design University).Florin Tamba chose the essential stylisation of the descendents of Brancusi birds. An ineffable grace of the embrace/enchainment, in an ambiguous approach/rupture. The two almost symmetric pieces (which evoke swans in love) were carved out of a complete work, or do they try to merge in a graceful turning movement? The marble spiral of Alexandru Ciubotariu illustrates meanders not only through its sinuous lines, but also by alternating the plan with the curve registers, or the natural porosity with the matte polishing. For Claudia Filipov, folding is a game of variable geometries with shapes of hailstone, complex and complicate like in an origami.The theme of going beyond expectations is not conceived of a very heroic manner by any of the young artists. Stefan Pop’s drawings are portrait sketches with varying posts and density of touches, like in a fluid draft, without an end, which risks skidding towards caricature. The perspective of Eugen Mihai Rosca adds a more typical nuance of postmodern irony, illustrating the day-to-day turmoil with the success of a girl that merges simultaneous operations of body care. The technique – mixed media – which suggests a collage, and the color dominance of black, potentates the satiric dimension.Besides their Cluj-based co-exhibitors, Japanese plastic artists indeed seem to come from another world. The installation of Ryusuke Kido, part of a phased happening – the exhibition will travel from Cluj to Tokyo, at the Nakagawa imperial gallery – embraces the (dialectic) game between materiality and symbolic functionality. The still functional (electric) switches will partly turn to ash in Tokyo, illustrating the confusion between cause and effect, as the cause (turning on the light) superimposes to the effect (the switch burns instead of the light). The exploration of a secret (is the light on, or off?) generates self-destruction, by overexposure to the given energy. Which, once again, evokes the noxious effects of excess (also of excessive hope).The other Japanese artists are less conceptual. Some use traditional materials – silk paper, imprints on silk or ceramic plates of kaolin – or even stylised classical decorative motifs. But their esthetic is postmodern. Some adopt the style of comics, like the Japanese stories of Sari Nakayama, sketches on pollution, excess of technology, fashion, workaholics and climate changes.Hide Yoshikawa plays with funny-grotesque characters (as if taken from traditional stories) in surreal postures (riding a sheep or jumping in the water with a rope tied around their feet). Yuko Hishiyama’s drawings, which evoke the symmetry of Buddhist mandalas, drawn in a childish style, give a unique approach to the erotic theme: old couples, displaying various expressions, postures and clothes, illustrate the metamorphoses of relations. The dominantly skeptical and dark tone of the exhibition is synthesized in the work of Morita Taisho dedicated to the nuclear threat (a constant in the recent history of Japan): a curtain made of traditional washi paper, integrally black (but painted in a completely non-homogenous manner), flanked by two golden bands. A dark veil between two (artificially?) bright sections – a suggestive symbol of life/history.

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