Sunday, 14 August 2011

Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting 13.08.11

Art- the conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colours, forms, movements or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty

Connecting- join or fasten

I've chosen these two definitions to help myself clarify the whole idea of this exhibition. Atsuko Tanaka is a Japanese avant-garde artist, in my opinion Tanaka's work fits the definition of avant-garde art. Her work is extremely experimental as she uses a wide variety of materials to create work that blurs the lines between painting, sculpture and performance art.

Walking into the exhibition the smell of freshly painted walls fills the room while Tanaka's work awaits. Her body of work varied from minimal large rectangles of dyed cotton cloth to complex in composition large paintings. For me it was her large colourful and complex paintings that were most engaging and inspiring along with the Electric Dress (1956).

Both the Electric Dress and paintings of vivid lines and circles works well in the exhibition space. I like that the Electric Dress was placed in the centre of the room surrounded by the large paintings as they were analogous in function.

When the dress lit up I immediately thought of modern day Japan, Tokyo a busy city with blazing neon signs all connected by neatly hidden electric wires. The fact that the wires on the Electric Dress aren't hidden echos the title of the exhibition 'The Art of Connecting' which is also apparent in her large vivid paintings which shows the complex connection of circles and lines veering in different directions but always connecting. This also allows you to open your mind and absorb all the colours in the paintings.

-Looking at the Electric Dress lit up my mind also drifts off to a period of Pop Art.

Although Tanaka's work was a few years before the Pop Art movement but I can see
the Electric Dress being displayed in Pop Art exhibition along with works from Roy Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.
Speaking to the invigilator of the exhibition about this he,
also echoed my thoughts by saying Japan was also involved in the second World War.

This immediately made another link with Tanaka's work to the Pop Art culture, Bell is a sound installation consisting of 20 electric bells wired together at two-metre intervals.
This sound installation if exhibited during the Pop Art movement could ranslate into the sound of terror,
the sound of bomb warning sirens going off to warn people of attack.

This was when real inspiration hit me. The circles in Tanaka's paintings were all different sizes and colours. The lines act as support that connects them. So I thought I could use these paintings and translate them in my own work by using different textures and colours of wool. I thought of wool because you can get a variety to work with which should create interesting lines like in the paintings. For the circles I though those could be represented by various sized pompom wool balls.

Atsuko Tanaka
The Art of Connecting

Ikon July- September 2011

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