Mori Art Museum

WORLD CLASSROOM: Contemporary Art through School Subjects Learning Art and the World Together, Mori Art Museum, Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan, September 2023
Mori Art Museum, Exhibition – September 2023

Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
20th Anniversary Exhibition
Contemporary Art through School Subjects
Learning Art and the World Together

19 April ~ 24 September 2023

Since the 1990s, when the development of contemporary art began to be considered from multiple perspectives in different parts of the world, we have been seeing that contemporary art today goes far beyond the framework of arts and crafts and fine art in the school classroom. It is a composite field with connections to all subjects, including language and literature, mathematics, science, and social studies. In each of these disciplines, researchers are exploring the “unknowns” of the world, delving into history, and making new discoveries and inventions from the past to the future in order to enrich our perception of the world. The stance adopted by contemporary artists that seek to go beyond our preconceptions in a creative way is also connected to this exploration of these unknowns. In this sense, the contemporary art museum is something akin to a “classroom of the world” where we can encounter and learn about these unknown worlds.

Mori Art Museum, Exhibition – September 2023

WORLD CLASSROOM: Contemporary Art through School Subjects, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Mori Art Museum, is an attempt for us to encounter a world we have never seen or known from a wide variety of perspectives, using the subjects we learn at school as a gateway to contemporary art. Even though this exhibition is divided into such sections as “Language and Literature,” “Social Studies,” “Philosophy,” “Mathematics,” “Science,” “Music,” “Phys. Ed.,” and “Transdisciplinary,” each work, in fact, crosses over multiple subjects and domains. While over half of the approximately 150 exhibited works will be drawn from the Mori Art Museum Collection for the first time ever, there will also be newly-commissioned artworks for this exhibition – altogether creating a “classroom of the world,” place of learning with works by 54 artists/artist groups.

PHILOSOPHY: The field of philosophy, which explores the universal meaning of the world and life has long had a very close relationship with artistic expression. Philosophers have pursued the fundamental principles that govern human birth, life, and death, while artists have also confronted these essential notions and created various forms of artistic expression. In the 20th century, the notion of “putting art back in the service of the mind,” advocated by Marcel Duchamp in the field of contemporary art, and which operates on the viewer’s thoughts rather than at the level of visual beauty, emphasized the importance of the ideological and philosophical aspects of art and has had a profound influence on the art that came after. Artistic expression is not limited to Western philosophy, which has had a great influence on modern society: it is also a place where various ideas, beliefs, and cultural values from around the world including Eastern thought intermingle. Works of art dealing with themes such as existence, time, nature, the afterlife, faith, and salvation demonstrate how each artist observes, perceives, and expresses the essence of this world.

Charwei Tsai takes Buddhist philosophy as her subject matter, expressing the diversity of religious beliefs and evanescence of the world through familiar motifs such as food, plants, and flowers. While Miyajima Tatsuo also expresses a Buddhist view of life and death, through the minimalist expression of numbers projected onto digital counters, an industrial product, he gives form to the lives of people that are born and die. Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s performances where she gives lectures to the dead, according to her, represent her own process of understanding death.

Lee Ufan’s paintings and sculptures visualize a state of exquisite thinking through elements stripped down to an absolute extreme, creating a contemplative space imbued with a unique sensation of tension and stillness. Nara Yoshitomo’s paintings evoke a warm presence within stillness. Perhaps it is the way the expressions on the faces of the children depicted in his paintings represent a kind of essential innocence and delicateness we all contain that attracts so many people.

Mori Art Museum, Exhibition – September 2023

Curated by:
Kataoka Mami (Director, Mori Art Museum)
Kumakura Haruko (Assistant Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Kondo Kenichi (Senior Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Tsubaki Reiko (Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Tokuyama Hirokazu (Associate Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Yahagi Manabu (Assistant Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Martin Germann (Adjunct Curator, Mori Art Museum)

Categorized as Exhibition

Gwangju Biennale

Gwangju Biennale, Soft and Weak Like Water, 2023

Gwangju Biennale
Soft and Weak Like Water
Curated by Artistic Director Sook-Kyung Lee, Associate Curator
Kerryn Greenberg, and Assistant Curators Sooyoung Leam and Harry C. H. Choi
7 April ~ 9 July 2023
Gwangju, South Korea

Gwangju Biennale, 2023 – Soft and Weak Like Water

Charwei Tsai’s multimedia practice meditates on the complexities among cultural beliefs, spirituality, and transience. The 14th Gwangju Biennale brings together two significant bodies of Tsai’s work, Spiral Incence Mantra – Hear Sutra, 2023, is composed of spirals of incense that are custom made by a family-owned incense factory in Tainan, on e of the oldest regions in the south of Taiwan. Passages from the Heart Sutra – a Buddhist scripture that distills the wisdom of impermanence – are inscribed on the incense spirals, which are suspended in midair. The idea that they can be lit and gradually transformed into smoke and ashes signals the Buddhist concept of emptiness. Works from A Temple, A Shrine, A Mosque, A Church series, 2022 consist of khoos, handwoven palm leaves that were traditionally used for household objects. They are hand-inscribed with verses from female Sufi poets. Tsai conceived the project in collaboration with Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts in Abu Dhabi to honor the women of the local community and their knowledge of working with local frats using natural materials from the region. 

Gwangju Biennale, 2023 – Soft and Weak Like Water

Special thanks to: Natasa Petresin-Belechez, Art Dubai, Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts, Jau-lan Guo, Wei-lun Chen, Guan-Wei Lin, Hsuan-Chiao Wang, Chao-Yu Tseng, and Pei-Cen Lin

Categorized as Biennales

Art Basel Hong Kong

Art Basel, Hong Kong, TKG+ - March 2023
Art Basel, Hong Kong, TKG+ – March 2023

Art Basel, Hong Kong
21 ~ 25 March 2023

For this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong, TKG+ presents artists Jane Lee (b. 1963), Jam Wu (b. 1979), Charwei Tsai (b. 1980), Chiu Chen-Hung (b. 1983) and Kong Chun Hei (b. 1987). Against a rambunctious art fair setting, together their practices in painting and installation form an intimate narrative that resonates with their distinct perspectives on the quotidian.

Art Basel, Hong Kong, TKG+ – March 2023
Categorized as Exhibition

A Temple, A Shrine, A Mosque, A Church

A Temple, A Shrine, A Mosque, A Church, 2022 – Gold ink on hand-woven mats by craftswomen

A Temple, A Shrine, A Mosque, A Church Series, 2022
Gold ink on hand-woven mats by craftswomen from Al Ghadeer, Abu Dhabi
300cm x 5 pieces (orange), 150cm x 4 pieces (green), 150cm x 4 pieces (purple)
Commissioned by Art Dubai, UAE
Special thanks to Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez and Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts

in my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where i kneel.
prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.

~ Rabia Basri, 6th century Iraq

This series of khoos, handwoven with local palm leaves, was traditionally used for household objects. Here they are hand-inscribed in gold with verses from women Sufi poets. This project is made in collaboration with Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts in Abu Dhabi to honor the local women community and their skills and knowledge of working with crafts using ecologically sustainable materials from the region.

A Temple, A Shrine, A Mosque, A Church Series, 2022 – Gold ink on hand-woven mats by craftswomen

Work Title: My Rest Is In My Solitude
“Brethren, my rest is in my solitude,
And my Beloved is ever in my presence.
Nothing for me will do but love of Him;
By love of Him I am tested in this world.
Whereso I be I contemplate His beauty;
He is my prayer-niche; He mine orient is.
Died I of love and found not His acceptance,
Of mankind I most wretched, woe were me!
Heart’s medicine man, Thou All of longing, grant
Union with Thee; ’twill cure me to the depth.
O Thou, ever my joy, my life, from Thee
Is mine existence and mine ecstasy.
From all creation I have turned away
For union with Thee mine utmost end.”
~ Rabia Basri, 8th century Basra, Iraq
Translated by Martin Ling

Work Title: If I worship You
“O Lord, if I worship You
Because of fear of hell
Then burn me in hell
If I worship You
Because I desire paradise
Then exclude me from paradise
But if I worship You
For Yourself alone
Then deny me not
Your eternal beauty.”
~ Rabia Basri, 8th century Basra, Iraq

A Temple, A Shrine, A Mosque, A Church Series, 2022 – Gold ink on hand-woven mats by craftswomen

Work Title: Your Prayers Were Light
“Your prayers were Light
And your worship peaceful,
Your sleep an enemy of prayer.
Your life was a test, but you let
It go by without a thought.
It’s ever-passing, slowly vanishes
Before you know it.”
~ Rabia Basri, 8th century Basra, Iraq

Work Title: At Dawn My Heart Said I Should Go
“At dawn my heart said I should go
Into the garden where
I’d pick fresh flowers, and hope to see
His flower-like beauty there.

I took his hand in mine, and oh
How happily we strayed
Among the tulip beds, and through
Each pretty grassy glade;

How sweet the tightness of his curls
Seemed then, and it was bliss
To grasp his fingers just as tight,
And snatch a stealthy kiss.

For me to be alone beside
That slender cypress tree
Cancels the thousand injuries
That he has given me.

He’s a narcissus, tall and straight!
And so how sweet to bow
My head like violets at his feet
And kiss the earth there now.

But your drunk eyes don’t deign to see me,
Although I really think
It’s easy to forgive someone
The worse for love or drink.

And though it’s good to weep beneath
God’s cloud of clement rain,
It’s also good to laugh like flowers
When sunlight shines again.

My heart was hurt by his “Checkmate”;
I think I must prepare
To seek out wider pastures then,
And wander off elsewhere.

Jahan, be careful not to say
Too much; it’s pitiful
To give a jewel to someone who
Can’t see it’s valuable.”
~ Jahan Malek Katun
14th Century Shiraz, Iran

Work Title: Your Face Usurps The Fiery Glow and Hue
“Your face usurps the fiery glow and hue of roses;
And with your face here, what have I to do with roses?

Your ringlets’ fragrance is so sweet, my friend,
No fragrant rose-scent could entice me to seek roses –

Besides, the faithless roses’ scent will fade,
Which is a serious drawback, in my view, of roses;

And if the waters of eternal life
Had touched their roots, so that they bloomed anew, these roses,

When could they ever form a bud as sweet
As your small mouth, which is more trim and true than roses?
~ Jahan Malek Katun
14th Century Shiraz, Iran

Work Title: Suppose a Breeze Should Bring to Me
“Suppose a breeze should bring to me
My lover’s scent –
I’d sacrifice my heard and soul
And be content…”
~ Jahan Malek Katun
14th Century Shiraz, Iran

Work title: Each New Flower Opening in the Morning Light
“Each new flower opening in the morning light,
Filling my heart with glory and delight…
Even before its perfume reaches me
Destruction’s wind has swept it from my sight.”
~ Jahan Malek Katun
14th Century Shiraz, Iran

Work title: In Rapture I Was Then That One Did Appear
“In rapture I was then that One did appear
living in heart where others did disappear.
Now none is taken unless like me they be:
that One knows I made the mystery clear.”
~ Aishah Al-Ba’Uniyah
15th century Ba’un, Syria

Work title: You Are the Earth, You Are the Sky Too
“You are the earth… You are the sky too;
You are the night, the wind and the day:
Sandalwood, rose, water, grain, are You.
You are… all! What to offer? Please do say!”
~ Lalla Ded / Lalleshwari
14th century Kashmir, India

Work title: On My Tongue Your Name I Whisphered
“On my tongue Your name
I had whispered,
my mouth and lips by this
were sweetened…”
Bibi Hayati Kermani
mid 18th century, early 19th century Kerman, Iran

Touching the Earth

Touching the Earth I & II 觸碰⼤大地 - Hand-woven ikat textile made with hand-spun cotton yarn

Touching the Earth I & II 觸碰⼤大地
Hand-woven ikat textile made with hand-spun cotton yarn and plant-based dye from Sumba, Indonesia
In collaboration with Alia Swastika & Nency Dwi Ratna

The remote island of Sumba in Indonesia is known for its warp ikat, a traditional tie dyeing and weaving technique.

An Indonesian curator Alia Swastika introduced me to a young weaver named Nency. Her traditional methods use hand-spun yarn, locally-sourced cotton and plant- based dye. Together we conceived a textile piece like a mandala surrounded with animals that the weavers of her studio have recently touched including goats, worms, chickens, dogs, cats, and mosquitos. This is part of a series of projects to honor women communities and their skills, knowledge and labor in working with natural materials.