Ikebana Photo Exhibition at the New Takanawa Prince Hotel
Ikebana, the traditional Japanese flower art, is an ancient form of expression and worship that remains an important cultural asset to this day. To the unschooled it may seem like exotic flower arrangement but on closer inspection it is much more.
Hiroki Maeno, one of Japan’s most prominent and innovative practitioners of ikebana wishes to separate the art from the common misperception that it is merely a form of decoration. The result of his illustrious career is a series of spectacular works that resemble post modern installation in form but are in fact celebrations of the existential animism that has in many ways been the soul of Japan since ancient times.
In April 2015 Maeno and his wife, creative director Junko Maeno, teamed up with designer Mizuki Yamahashiri, makeup artist Yoshio and Tokyo based British photographer Anatole Papfilippou to create a book of modern ikebana, entitled Genesis + Revolution.
Genesis + Revolution stands out from the many books on ikebana that have been published in Japan. In the context of the traditional Japanese understanding of ikebana, it is an existential tour de force, in which Maeno pulls ikebana into new territory while at the same time returning it to its ancient roots in samurai philosophy and art.
The first half of the book features Ikebana sculptures in which the human form interacts with flowers and plants. With names like “Tree Man,” these human ikebana sculptures explore man’s place on the earth as well as his birth from it, and embody Maeno’s belief that humans are like flowers.
Now Maeno, Yamahashiri, Yoshio and Papafilippou have partnered with voice actor Shoo Munakata to create “Cosmos & Flowers & Human Being,” an audio visual exhibition of photography and ikebana in the lobby of the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa.
The exhibition follows the central theme of the book Genesis + Rebirth, that man is “of the earth,” and expands on it by exploring humankind’s relationship with the universe.
Maeno feels that just as the bright lights of the city make it almost impossible to see the stars at night, man’s obsession with technology and the primacy of the screen in modern life has obscured nature.
“Just as ancient sailors used the stars to chart their course, we need nature to navigate our lives. Man’s separation from nature is leading to despair,” he said. Representing the human form as an intergalactic landscape, the exhibition sets out to reinvigorate man’s connection to nature and the cosmos.
When: Tue, Mar. 22–Sun, Apr. 3, 2016, 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m.
Where: Lobby of the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa, 3-13-1 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo
How much: Free!
All photos by Anatole Papafilippou.