Installation works of Takashi Kuribayashi imbibe metaphysical ideas on life

The Japanese artist Takashi Kuribayashi’s mammoth-sized installations excavate the meaning of truth beyond the obvious nature of reality that shapes the human existence.

by Dilpreet Bhullar Published on : Aug 05, 2020

The quest for truth has led creative minds to wander to unknown places with a hope that the outside world may clear certain clouds of scepticism, if not provide answers to the questions. Harder the task to find absolute responses, obvious it becomes in the hands of the artists to metamorphosis his pursuit into abstract art. The Japanese artist Takashi Kuribayashi, through the labyrinth of unsettling historical events, finds truth to give meaning to mammoth-sized installation art. The infinite cycle of the journey has led Kuribayashi to question the boundaries that distinguish the world of humans and nature.

‘Vortex: A Letter from Einstein’, Spiral Garden Aoyama, Japan (2015), flexible container bags, glass and wire | Takashi Kuribayashi| STIRworld
Vortex: A Letter from Einstein, Spiral Garden Aoyama, Japan (2015), flexible container bags, glass and wire Image Credit: Courtesy of Takashi Kuribayashi

The incidents such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident have reinvigorated the supremacy of forces of nature for Kuribayashi. The installation Vortex: A Letter from Einstein holds the copy of the letter, as the point of contention extended by scientist Alfred Einstein to the US President Franklin Roosevelt, that pushed nuclear bomb production. The chandelier is shaped like a nuclear reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, while the black bag looming around showcases the decontaminated lands of the city. Interestingly, the glassworks are the words from the letter, which could be read directly through the play of light and shadow.

Three trees made of 3000 magic mirrors (2018) | Takashi Kuribayashi| STIRworld
Three trees made of 3000 magic mirrors (2018) Image Credit: Takashi Kuribayashi

When globally we are facing pandemic crisis that does not seem to fade away anytime soon, Kuribayashi in an interview with STIR talks about the importance of nature and creativity, “The role and theme of art are yet to be determined. For now, I can say humans have taken a halt from the busy-ness of life, and the presence of nature is visible like never before...this holds a great significance.” The art of reflection lends an added meaning to Kuribayashi’s installation as if his urge to translate the truth is reflected through his choice of material. At Saison Enfance, Palais de Tokyo, the three trees made of 3000 magic mirrors stand as a metaphor of an unbroken harmony running between the earth and sky. For the artist, the sky runs the same between the two cities he shuttles – Yogyakarta in Indonesia and Fukushima in Japan

When each of the installation carries a stark distinction from one another, Kuribayashi explains the different stages of conceptualisation that underline his art practice, “At first, I thoroughly ideate on the concepts, material, sizes, and the way of presentations before starting production.  That is why each material of my works is so different. The work happens to determine the material. After that I focus on how to get closer to the image in my mental space and what I want to convey. Furthermore, I need to be responsible for the time limit and the budgets that I have”.

Takashi Kuribayashi’s portrait | STIRworld
Takashi Kuribayashi Image Credit: Courtesy of Takashi Kuribayashi

In the past few decades, we have regularly witnessed how the ecosystem is unanimously sacrificed in favour of urban development. Such is the case with Singapore, the city of innovation, where the zeal to combine growth and technology has tossed away nature’s spirit of abundance. The installation Trees, Imaginarium sees trees encased in glass boxes to highlight the omnipresence of synthetic reproductions around us that we tend to ignore. The microcosmic viewpoint of the installation exudes the caustic flavour on the uncontested acceptance of an artificial way of leading the human life.

Kuribayashi refrains from imposing his understanding of the artwork to his viewers. “There is something that I would like to convey, but even if it is not necessarily communicated and the viewer perceives it within the boundaries of his subjective context or the work renders some influence in their respective life, it means the purpose of my work is established,” he states.

‘Trees, Imaginarium’, Singapore Art Museum (2015), Singapore glass, wire and tree | Takashi Kuribayashi| STIRworld
Trees, Imaginarium, Singapore Art Museum (2015), Singapore, glass, wire and tree Image Credit: Courtesy of Takashi Kuribayashi

By his own admission, Kuribayashi takes resort to sage-like wisdom to fully comprehend the metaphysical meaning attached to the concepts of space-time and life-death. The suggestive philosophical expression instead of complementing technique and composition of the larger-than-life installations seems to overpower the final work of art. It is not the end of the pursuit that defines human existence, but it is the on-going journey towards the ultimate goal that enables the sense of evolvement. If embracing the same, Kuribayashi’s persuasion of truth at the unknown places could unfold the layers of reality like a peel of an onion, his audience would get to taste a novel phenomenological way of art and life.

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