Modern Japanese Art at Wa Space, Akasaka

By Cheryl White
October 31, 2014
Art & Culture

Wa Space is an exciting new gallery in Tokyo. Conceived and designed by the effervescent Dominic Carter, it is located just off the beaten path in Akasaka. Its guiding principle of bringing the Japanese ethic of wabi-sabi to the world via the work of modern Japanese artists, is both inspiring and exhilarating.

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Set in a weatherbeaten, old style shop house, Wa Space is part gallery, part store, and part event space. Inside, the clean lines of a huge poured slab and exposed wooden structural supports play with concepts of contemporary design. Mixing different building materials of concrete and wood creates an über-modern look and makes for a perfect display area for the gallery’s inventory.

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Wa Space offers shoppers and art lovers alike the chance to see the works of some of the most innovative and creative people working in Japanese design today. Its wabi-sabi philosophy connects traditional Japanese values of both nature and art. The natural, the old, the used and the reused all fit into this philosophy and are re-interpreted by the artists represented at the gallery.

Brightly lacquered tansu chests, pottery of exquisite delicacy, silk wall hangings and paper lamps sit comfortably next to colourful zori footwear and zabuton cushions and stools. Smaller pieces for personal use, such as glassware, card cases, scarves and fans are made using traditional designs and methods redefined for contemporary tastes.

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Another aspect of Wa Space is that of a gallery. Every few weeks a new exhibition begins, showcasing an artist and his or her work. The latest is set to open on November 15 and will run until November 29th. “The Art of Enlightenment” features the work of Kanagawa-based artist Shoichi Sakurai. A self-described “recycle artist,” Shoichi’s work uses discarded materials; a practice which, as Dominic says, “goes hand in hand with the wabi-sabi aesthetic.”

Shoichi’s pieces are created from almost every possible source of discarded material, including burst tires, metal vessels and wood. Even so, there is a feeling of delicacy about his work, even in his metal pieces. Handmade washi paper and lattice also feature, which one may assume is a legacy of his craftsman father who made latticework for shoji screens. Shoichi is both artisan and artist. He expresses his talents through just about every possible medium including jewelry, fabric and clothing. Many of his pieces are illuminated, which gives them a softness and warmth.

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For this event Dominic has generously handed his gallery over to the artist to use as part of his exhibition. Shoichi will have free reign to arrange his works among the gallery’s existing displays and spaces, thus making the gallery itself part of the exhibition.

Attending an opening at Wa Space is fun and entertaining. Dominic and his friendly staff pour champagne and chat sociably with the guests. The featured artist is on hand to offer insights to his or her work. The staff are extremely knowledgeable about all the pieces in the collection and are very happy to assist and answer any questions.

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“The Art of Enlightenment” will run at Wa Space from November 15 until November 29. All are welcome to the opening event on November 15 from 2 to 6 p.m.

The Deets

Address: 4-3-27 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-4520-9335

Open: Tue–Fri, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat, 1–6 p.m.; also by private appointment; closed on public holidays

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