PERSONA – In the space and in the time by FUKUSHI ITO

Posted by roberto09 | Posted in Arte e suggestioni metropolitane, Critica d'arte e curatele, Eventi | Posted on 24-06-2017

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“Persona”. In the space and in the time is a solo exhibition by Fukushi Ito which is, in many respects, a retrospective. Promoted by the MetaMorfosi Association, the exhibition is being hosted by the MetaMorfosi Art Gallery in Amalfi in the prestigious spaces of the Arsenal of the Amalfi Republic.  Though not an explicit theme the show does possesses an anthropological dimension which has always played an important role in this artist’s work.

Fukushi Ito is a Japanese artist who has lived and worked for over 30 years between Italy and Japan, developing her research and poetic language at a crossroads of different spaces and different times (two homelands, different languages, different symbolic and material contexts), taking on the challenges of contemporaneity, attempting to convey the contradictions of the present through the specific codes and innovations of artistic experimentation in a global context.  For many years, through cycles of works that all bear the same title In the space, in the time, she has devoted herself to an artistic investigation into the relationship between spatiality, temporality, light, shadow, form, energy, matter and the existential condition of man.  In these cycles she has undertaken her own personal exploration of the universe: seeking  conditions for the possible presence of things in space and time and the existential and cultural statute of the human being.  As we have already said on other occasions[1], for Ito “space” and “time” are dimensions of ontological and existential identity that interact with both individual and collective memory, allowing for the acquisition, preservation and re-elaboration of one’s own heritage of values and culture.  Her own artistic background bears witness to this:  starting from traditional Japanese painting, where washi (handmade vegetable fibre paper) and natural pigments provide the material support for gestures conveying the symbolic essence of things through simple and refined strokes.  She took on board the teaching of Japanese tradition: first and foremost the “Rimpa School”, which focuses on the synergy between decoration and painting and the symbolic value of material, and the world of Katsushika Hokusai, featuring a light but powerful manner of representing figures in space, giving birth to concretely pictorial images of the “fluctuating world”.  Upon her arrival in Italy, Fukushi took her distance from this tradition almost immediately.  An artistic journey began where ancient and contemporary materials were combined and integrated: washi and pigments united with photo images, realistic videos, plexiglass, transparent film, neon and LED lights to create complex installations which overcame the visual dimension emerging in spatiality.  Clearly, the artistic relationship between Western and Japanese culture has many 20th  century precedents – consider the explicit Japanese influence in Art Nouveau and Art Deco or the Fluxus movement.  However, the specific point of Fukushi Ito’s research lies in having achieved a particular adaptation/translation of Japanese style and themes into codes and languages that are extremely up-to-date and artistically contemporary.  Moreover, in Ito’s poetic language the themes of temporality and spatiality, the attention paid to light and materials, feature constant anthropological consideration.   It is always implicit though essential, and it emerges explicitly in its full potency in works such as those exhibited here, where the human takes on the role of an “exemplary figure” in an ontological and anthropological state[2].   When we examine it closely, this interest in what is human, understood in the multiple sense of “person”, “character” and “exemplary figure”, capable of incarnating a socio-historical and existential condition and a model of humanity for future generations (leading to representation of the iconic power inherent when tradition encounters innovation), has been present since the outset of our artist’s career.  In 1984 for example, together with other Japanese artists working in Italy and Japan, Fukushi founded “Group Sou” which put on an installation in 1987 for the “Group Art Work” section of an international exhibition organised in conjunction with Manifesta 8.   Entitled “Progetto Persona”, it was an environmental installation of different coloured triangular prisms which took their form from the Japanese ideogram indicating the concept of “person” (人).  This early work with its clear anthropological references, already employed expressive codes that were to become typical of her poetic language, the critic Pierre Restany described it as highly systematic, symbolic and universal[3].  Over the following years, Ito devoted the greater part of her creative energy to investigating the nexus between spatiality and temporality in installations and photographic artworks.  Nonetheless, she never completely abandoned her interest in the human and its exemplarity, it resurfaced in works dedicated to figures who have been fundamental to her for biographic, socio-historical or artistic reasons.   These “exemplary figures” with whom Fukushi has established a dialogue over the decades, have always had a specific socio-historical identity: great creators and innovators capable of taking on and overcoming the traditions they upheld.  Essential metaphors therefore of a given epoch, a social or material condition and crucial discourse on the world and its transformation – whether they be historical figures (e.g. Machiavelli) or contemporary artists or intellectuals (e.g. Gillo Dorfles, Lucio Fontana, Bruno Munari…).  They all stand as emblems of certain specific cultural contexts and have played an important role in her personal and artistic development, moreover, they have left their mark on the cultural and social landscape that defines our globalized age.  In this artistic operation, which gives birth to installations of composite materials and languages,  there is an awareness that it is not only the world which takes form and emerges from the opening of space-time, but it is, above all, individual personalities that have the capacity to lend form to themselves and embody elements of innovation, fracture and the conservation of memory, and cultural, social, artistic and intellectual tradition.  There are many personalities with whom Ito has engaged over the years, they include: Miyamoto Musashi, the great samurai from the Edo period; Korin Ogata, a painter from the Rimpa School; the Ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai;  novelist Junichiro Tanizaki; Yukio Mishima; Paolo Uccello; Piero della Francesca; Leonardo da Vinci; Niccolò Machiavelli; Lucio Fontana; Bruno Munari; Oriana Fallaci; Gillo Dorfles… figures who are all “exemplary” and “emblematic”, in some way “exceptional” in their historical impact, biographies and output.  They stand as points of reference within a tradition that either stems from their work or else they have reached, in their creativity, an specific apex in expression and achievement.   The iconic nature of these works is obtained through the superimposition of realistic photos of landscapes, the individuals themselves, reproductions of their writings and works; they give rise to “virtual landscapes” that create a “dilated reality”, also thanks to digital images drawn from the web and television.  The saturation and superimposition of images, their projection into the exhibition space, thanks to lights mounted inside polyhedron-shaped installations, creates a sensation of immersion in a contemporaneity inhabited by images and figures that surround our existence and constitute the connective tissue of the globalized world.  As a counterpoint to these iconographic works we have sculptural installations which by juxtaposing points, corners, spheres and geometric figures attempt to render the essence of the figures in an abstract manner, as they are perceived and appear in Ito’s artistic and emotional imagination.

[1]             Cf. R. Mastroianni, In the Space and In the Time, Altralinea edizioni, Florence 2013

[2]             Cf. Ibid

[3]             Cf. P. Restany, Group Sou- Progetto Persona- Esposizione Sou, Galleria Kodama, 1987 and S. Takahashi (edited by), Le mostre di Fukushi Ito-Nello spazio e nel tempo, Museo d’arte della prefettura di Aichi, 1999

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