Press Release  August 25, 2021

Japandi: Shared Aesthetics and Influences

Photo by Tom Grotta

Center: Ulla-Maija Vikman, Akureyri, 2009. Painted viscose, and linen, mahogany. Bottom Right: Jiro Yonezawa, Red Fuji, 2019. bamboo, urushi lacquer.

browngrotta arts is pleased to announce its forthcoming exhibition, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences, exploring common approaches shared between Japanese and Scandinavian cultures through art. The show will feature thirty-nine contemporary fiber and ceramic artists from Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, and Sweden. Opening September 25 through October 3, 2021.

Japandi is a hybrid union of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetic approaches appreciated for its exceptional craftsmanship, simplicity and minimalism, reverence for nature and natural, sustainable materials, and the beauty of embracing imperfection. This union evokes a visual and physical sense of calm and tranquility.

The artistic kinship stretches back a century and a half ago when Japan’s closed border policy was lifted in 1858 and Danish designers and creatives began traveling to Japan. Early influence can be seen in ceramic crafts, architecture, and Danish furniture. After World War II, the Japanese government began promoting cultural exchange among designers and artists from Scandinavia.

Artists of Fiber Art and Modern Craft uniquely embody principal elements of what is currently termed Japandi style - from their use of natural materials and neutral color palettes to the fundamentally “slow art” process of hand craftsmanship. The core of their processes and materials are invoked with an intrinsic sense of contemplation, tranquility, and harmony that reverberates through their work and into the spaces the artworks inhabit. Unique basket forms may be made of bamboo, willow, cedar, or their earthly “scraps” such as branches, grasses, bark, and twigs. Materials come from regionally or locally sourced plant life or even backyard cultivation. Works made of soft materials such as linen, cotton, or wool are handwoven in meticulous detail act as textural counterpoints, adding warmth and calm in modern interiors. Both cultures make room for reuse, artful imperfection, and comfortable simplicity, through the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi and the Scandinavian idea of hygge.

Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences will feature more than three dozen artists from six countries whose works are complementary in approach and execution. Birgitte Birkkjaer (Denmark) is working on baskets made from handmade paper yarn inspired by the Japanese paper textiles shifu. Kay Sekimachi’s (Japan) folded tower sculptures are made of antique Japanese gampi paper treated with persimmon tannin. Jiro Yonezawa (Japan) known for his bamboo basketry reflects that his recent baskets “represent a search for the beauty and precision in nature and a way to balance the chaos evident in these times.” Hiroyuki Shindo (Japan) hand weaves fabrics developed through his own system for natural indigo dyeing, a process that takes several days to complete. For her large-scale textile work, Ane Henriksen (Denmark) replicates strips of webbed rubber matting based on the oil-tainted discarded materials she found washed up along the West coast of Denmark, challenging the viewer to address global environmental issues. Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan) sees weaving as a representation of time passing. Through her process of “grinding,” she elevates the less-than-perfect, distressing her linen weavings on the ground over brick or stone, embedding the earth onto her work. Basketmaker Markku Kosonen (Finland) subverted the symbolism and traditional utility of willow to create new works and/or functions.

Artists include Jane Balsgaard (Denmark), Birgit Birkkjær (Denmark), Gjertrud Hals (Norway), Norie Hatakeyama (Japan), Ane Henriksen (Denmark), Agneta Hobin (Finland), Kazue Honma (Japan), Mutsumi Iwasaki (Japan), Kiyomi Iwata (Japan), Tomika Kawata (Japan), Masakazu Kobayashi (Japan), Naomi Kobayashi (Japan), Yasuhisa Kohyama (Japan), Markku Kosonen (Finland), Kyoko Kumai (Japan), Åse Ljones (Norway),Kari Lønning (Norway), Keiji Nio (Japan), Mia Olsson (Sweden), Gudrun Pagter (Denmark), Toshio Sekiji (Japan), Hisako Sekijima (Japan), Kay Sekimachi (United States), Naoko Serino (Japan), Hiroyuki Shindo (Japan), Jin-Sook So (Korea/Sweden), Grethe Sørensen (Denmark), Kari Stiansen (Denmark), Noriko Takamiya (Japan), Hideho Tanaka (Japan), Tsuruko Tanikawa (Japan), Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan), Jun Tomita (Japan), Eva Vargo (Sweden), Ulla-Maija Vikman (Finland), Merja Winqvist (Finland), Grethe Wittrock (Denmark), Jiro Yonezawa (Japan), Masako Yoshida (Japan).

For over thirty years, browngrotta arts has been advancing the field of contemporary fiber arts by curating and exhibiting renowned contemporary artists who celebrate the exploration of fiber art techniques and drive the unique possibilities of soft materials. Representing many of the artists who have helped define modern fiber art since the 1950s, browngrotta arts reflects the cultivated eye and intellect of its directors, husband and wife team, Tom Grotta and Rhonda Brown.

Founded in 1987 in Wilton, Connecticut, browngrotta arts showcases unique sculptural and mixed media works with an emphasis on concept, supported by technique. The focus of the work is on the materials and the technical mastery of the artist as intrinsic to the significance of the work, prioritizing aesthetic value over utility. Museum-quality artworks by more than 100 international artists are represented through art catalogs, art fairs, co-partnered exhibits at museums, retail spaces, and an online gallery.

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