Archive: Japan
This was intended to be Andy Warhol’s retirement from painting

This was intended to be Andy Warhol’s retirement from painting

Andy Warhol blowing up Silver Cloud Pillow, Los Angeles, 1966

Andy Warhol blowing up Silver Cloud Pillow, Los Angeles, 1966
Andy Warhol blowing up Silver Clouds, Los Angeles, 1966

Andy Warhol is no stranger to critical acclaim; his various works introduced thousands of audiences to contemporary art which helped to put American artists on the map, and it waged a war against abstract expressionism. Warhol effectively managed, time and time again, to shatter distinctions in art and he helped to reshape the aesthetic criteria that many people used to categorize art. In true fashion, Warhol inspired an artistic revolution of epic proportions that was felt not just in America, but in other parts of the world as well.

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Colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Joan Miró - 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain detail
Joan MiróWall of the Barcelona Airport (detail), 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain

If you have ever been to Barcelona, you must have walked over one of Joan Miro’s mosaics. The artist began to publicly display his work in 1976 when he chose the centre of Barcelona’s Rambla to permanently incorporate his work into a pavement. This was in fulfilment of a pledge he had made in 1968 to create four pieces of art which he would donate to the city of Barcelona where he was born. The use of different colors in the mosaic brings out the vibrancy that is his style of art. All the artwork that is associated with Joan Miró speaks the language of simplicity; generous use of color and simple shapes. More than four decades after his first outdoor work of art, the works of Joan Miró located in various parts of the world are enjoying facelifts of massive proportions.

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Bridging cultures with influential sculptures & furniture

Bridging cultures with influential sculptures & furniture

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 1

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 1
Isamu NoguchiRed Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA

A walk through Japan reveals the close correlation between nature and aesthetics. Amid the natural setup are works of art that remind everyone about the history, beliefs and affiliations of the Japanese people. The modern art concept of creating spectacular pieces to create an art park is becoming rather common owing to the pioneer work of artists like Isamu Noguchi. Having been an artist for 60 years, he has helped shape the aesthetic and cultural appearance of Japan and the US through the creation of sculpture parks. Even in death, Noguchi is still recognized for his artwork on furniture, gardens, ceramics and architecture. Although considered subtle and bold during his time, his work is now the standard for modern and expressionist art.

Owing to his mixed heritage, Isamu Noguchi was an internationalist and it is during his travels that he picked up the inspiration to express himself in sculptures. His inspiration for large scale sculpture works with a story actually came from Mexico. He would then incorporate Japanese tranquil garden and earthy ceramic setup as well as the Chinese light ink brushing technique into his work. As one would imagine, what he created from bringing together these different aspects was epic creativity. Once he had settled in his trade, he would maintain studios in New York and Japan, perhaps to declare allegiance to his roots. The works of Isamu Noguchi are evidently aimed at enhancing harmony in human coexistence. The blend of Western and Eastern cultures, modern and traditional life, organic and geometric alignment of nature are some of the efforts Isamu Noguchi made to create tranquility in his work.

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 2
Isamu NoguchiRed Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA

Isamu Noguchi - Red Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA 3
Isamu NoguchiRed Cube Sculpture, 1968, 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets, Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York, USA

Isamu Noguchi - Octetra, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA
Isamu NoguchiOctetra, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA

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What happens when 8 million LED lights illuminate Japanese town

What happens when 8 million LED lights illuminate Japanese town

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination - Light Tunnel 1
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Japan seems to be way ahead of the rest of world when it comes to experimenting with lights. It is a culture throughout the country to have impressive light festivals over winter. Other than showcasing the creativity of new talent every year, such festivals give life to the boring weather of winter. It is no wonder that most people love to extend these displays well into spring.

First time visitors will find the numerous festivals captivating but natives and frequent visitors will agree that the Nabana no Sato is the highlight of them all. The festival is a creation of the Nagashima hot spring resort located in Mie prefecture. Setting up the light display takes a record four months and involves thousands of workers to fix the over 8 million LED lights. The most outstanding feature of this festival is the stunning tunnel of lights which spans 100 meters. Every year, so as to make it feel like a new experience for visitors, a detail of the tunnel is magnified and this year is not different. If you were in Nabana no Sato in any other year, you will not see the red, green and orange color change at the tunnel of lights.

To someone who has never been to Japan over the winter season, it is hard to imagine that the flowers on display in the various festivals are real. It is easy to get lost in the marvel of the seasonal flower shows but even more captivating are the winter illuminations. Every year, there is an increase in the number of visitors who tour Japan for the winter illumination festivities and in 2017 alone, it is estimated that a total of 2 million visitors will tour the Nabana no Sato for the festivities.

Nabana no Sato is within proximity to the Nagashima Spa Land and for visitors travelling by public means, the location is accessible by bus or train services. This is an excellent location for a weekend away from the busy city life; a great stress relief activity is strolling through the grounds that are alive with shrubs and seasonal flowers. Many people find that there is something new to see regardless of what season it is. The next time you are close by over November to March, do not forget to drop by and when you do, you better have your camera ready to snap away. The beauty of the winter illumination festival is nothing to describe in words but a picture will capture it all!

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination - Light Tunnel 2
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination - Mt. Fuji Display 1
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination - Mt. Fuji Display 2
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination - Mt. Fuji Display 3
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination - Light trail on the water
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 5
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 1
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 2
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 3
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 4
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 7
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 8
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 9
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 6
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 11
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan

Nabana no Sato - Winter Illumination 10
Winter Illumination at Nabana no Sato, Kuwana, Japan


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Photos of world’s biggest statues taken from unusual angles

Photos of world’s biggest statues taken from unusual angles

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Jibo Kannon Kagaonsen, Japan 73 m (239 ft) Built in 1987
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Jibo Kannon, Kagaonsen, Japan, 73m (239ft), Built in 1987

Through several centuries, there have been different statues erected around the world. These statues vary in sizes and what they represent. Photographer Fabrice Fouillet embarked on a tour to study and take photographs of the biggest and most imposing statues in the world; A project he named Colosses. The project brings about a change in how these monuments are viewed, in other words, the idea of the project is not entirely to capture images of the statues or show off their sizes or the symbol they represent. The project however is to show these figures in the environment they are in and how they fit into the landscape and their connections to their immediate surroundings. Colosses is a study of the landscape in which monuments and commemorative statues are erected, and tends to bring out another perspective from which these symbolic representations can be viewed.

There can be different reasons why statues are erected and these include political, ideological or religious. Most times, statues are erected to keep alive the memory of a person or event and with the passing of the years, the statue will eventually become a symbol for the community.

As the series Colosses is all about the landscapes in which these statues are sited, we get to see the connections these gigantic declarations have with their immediate environment. A lot of statues were erected around the world in the 1990s with many of them located in Asia. Right now the world’s highest statue is undergoing construction in India and it will go as high as 182 meters which will be almost twice the size of the statue of liberty.

For this project, Fouillet took photographs of the statues outside their surroundings totally detaching them from their natural environment thereby giving a wider view and perspective to how these huge monuments fit into the landscape. He captures the monuments from a perspective we don’t usually get to see every day. Some of these monuments include the Dai Kanon in Sendai, Japan which he framed from a few blocks away. Christ the King monument in Swiebudzin, Poland was framed from behind. For some of the monuments, Fouillet shoots wide enough to capture the details of the things in the environment of these looming monoliths. For example, in the image of the Grand Byakue Kannon in Takazai, Japan, there is a Coca-Cola machine just down the hill away from the monument. According to Fouillet, his intention is to take out the monument from its regular touristic and religious setting which we are already used to.

So far, the project has spanned through ten countries and Fouillet thinks the project would not be complete if he does not capture the monument of Genghis Kahn riding on horseback which is located on the banks of the Tuul River in Mongolia and the Sardar Patel statue which is under construction in India. For the biggest statue in the world at the moment, the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China, Fouillet said he was unable to find a satisfying angle.

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - African Renaissance Monument Dakar, Senegal 49 m (161 ft) Built in 2010
Fabrice FouilletColosses, African Renaissance Monument, Dakar, Senegal, 49m (161ft), Built in 2010

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Alyosha Monument Murmansk, Russia 35.5 m (116.5 ft) Built in 1974
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Alyosha Monument, Murmansk, Russia 35.5 m (116.5 ft), Built in 1974

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Amitabha Buddha Ushiku, Japan 110 m (360 ft) Built in 1993
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Amitabha Buddha, Ushiku, Japan, 110m (360ft), Built in 1993

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Ataturk Mask Buca, Izmir, Turkey 40 m (132 ft) Built in 2009
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Ataturk Mask, Buca, Izmir, Turkey, 40m (132ft), Built in 2009

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Christ Blessing Manado, Indonesia 30 m (98.5 ft) Built in 2007
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Christ Blessing, Manado, Indonesia, 30m (98.5ft), Built in 2007

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Christ the King Świebodzin, Poland 36 m (120 ft) Built in 2010
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Christ the King Świebodzin, Poland, 36m (120 ft), Built in 2010

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Dai Kannon Sendai, Japan, 100m (330 ft) Built in 1991
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Dai Kannon, Sendai, Japan, 100m (330 ft), Built in 1991

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Grand Bouddha Sakayamunee. Ang Thong, Thailande 92 m (301 ft) Built in 2008
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Great Buddha of Thailand, Ang Thong, Thailand, 92m (301ft), Built in 2008

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Grand Byakue Takazaki, Japan 42 m (137 ft) Built in 1936
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Grand Byakue, Takazaki, Japan, 42m (137ft), Built in 1936

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Guan Yu Statue Yuncheng, China 80 meters (262 ft) Built in 2010
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Guan Yu Statue, Yuncheng, China, 80m (262ft), Built in 2010

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Guanyin Foshan, China 62 m (203 ft) Built in 1998
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Guanyin, Foshan, China, 62m (203ft), Built in 1998

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Laykyun Setkyar Monywa, Myanmar 116 m (381 ft) Built in 2008
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Laykyun Setkyar Monywa, Myanmar, 116m (381ft), Built in 2008

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Mao Zedong Changsha, China, 32 m (105 ft), Built in 2009
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Mao Zedong, Changsha, China, 32m (105ft), Built in 2009

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Mother of the Fatherland. Kiev, Ukraine, 62 m (203 ft). Built in 1981
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Mother of the Fatherland, Kiev, Ukraine, 62m (203ft), Built in 1981

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - The Motherland Call. Volgograd, Russia 87 m (285 ft) Built in 1967
Fabrice FouilletColosses, The Motherland Call, Volgograd, Russia, 87m (285ft), Built in 1967


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Cute or dark and frightening? You decide

Cute or dark and frightening? You decide

Yoshitomo Nara - Yellow in Blue, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 150 cm
Yoshitomo Nara – Yellow in Blue, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 150 cm

Yoshitomo Nara was born in Hirosaki, Japan in 1959 and is a Japanese artist whose work has been exhibited around the world. He lives and works in Tokyo, and Japanese popular culture plays an influential role in his world. Nara studied at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music where he received his B.F.A. (1985) and an M.F.A. (1987). He also studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, in Germany between 1988 and 1993.

The work has several influences including manga and anime of the 1960s as seen in Nara’s large-eyed figures. He challenges these characteristically cute images by juxtaposing them with dark and frightening imagery. This infusion of horror changes the image altogether, the contrast of the innocent large eyed child with the imagery of human evil may be a response to Japan’s strict social conventions. Other influences of Nara’s work include punk rock music, Renaissance painting, ukiyo-e and graffiti.

The artist grew up in post-World War II Japan, and the sociocultural environment at this time certainly affected his mindset and artwork. During his childhood and youth, Japan was being barraged by Western pop culture. Nara was raised in the countryside, fairly isolated, and as the child of two working-class parents, he was often left alone while his parents were at work. This time alone with his imagination played a significant role in his artistic development.

His first major New York Exhibition “Nobody’s Fool“ in 2010 at the Asia Society featured over one hundred works from the 1980s to his current works. His work features ceramics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and large-scale installations. Nara is one of the leading artists of Japan’s influential Neo Pop art, and has become infamous for his portrayals of children and animals. Although the children and animals he creates are adorable they are often menacing, causing viewers to contemplate the feelings and concepts behind his work. Underneath the popular appeal of the dark but adorable characters in his work are the somber social, political, and personal elements of his work: darker emotions of loneliness in a rigid society, rage, fear, and helplessness. Nara uses soft pastels and the apiece of cute and vulnerable children and animals as opposed to punk rock imagery. He also takes inspiration from the positive values of Japanese tradition and combines traditional with contemporary. The subjects of his work, the wide-eyed children and animals, whose vulnerability and in addition to the nightmarish features of his paintings can easily stimulate distressing feelings. He often uses soft hued, pastel colors with bold lines as seen in anime characters in popular culture. The children featured in Nara’s works sometimes wield weapons such as knives and saws; their expressions are haunting, their eyes giving viewers accusatory looks. It is with his use of contrasting images, colors, and emotions that Nara’s work has captured the imaginations of generations around the world.

Yoshitomo Nara - Night Walker, 2001
Yoshitomo Nara – Night Walker, 2001

Yoshitomo Nara - No Means No, 1995, 55 x 65cm (21 5/8 x 25 9/16in), acrylic on canvas
Yoshitomo Nara – No Means No, 1995, acrylic on canvas, 55x65cm

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Beautiful & intricate miniature of ancient Japanese temple

Beautiful & intricate miniature of ancient Japanese temple

Takahiro Iwasaki - Reflection Model (Perfect Bliss)
Takahiro IwasakiReflection Model (Perfect Bliss), 2010-2012, 150 x 280 x 194cm, Japanese cypress, wire

Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki’s sculpture the Reflection Model (Perfect Bliss) is a sophisticated miniature recreation of Phoenix Hall, which is part of Japan’s Byodo-in Temple complex. Embodying many elements of tradition and modernity, as the piece imitates the reflection of the traditional mirror pond as a physical object, suspended from the ceiling, performing to the audience as a three-dimensional mirrored image hovering magically in the air.

The juxtapositions within this piece are appropriate in considering Iwasaki’s artwork’s relationship to Orientalism and Japanese modernity. This work reflects upon the ways in which architecture has been influential in the development of conceptions of Japanese national identity, along with the opposed concept of Westernization in Japanese culture. Iwasaki’s use of ‘construction’ is both corresponding and fundamental, inferring the function of architecture in forming social values and perceptions of collective identity.

The miniatures are fashioned with inverted imagery bringing the sculpture to life through the illusion of water and reflection. Iwasaki’s work involves the combination of realism and dreamlike ingenuity to create the feeling of awe as the weightlessness of the floating building can bring to mind sentiments of exposure and delicacy with a contrasting feeling of sustenance and strength.

As you stand peering at the piece eye level, or sit below the flying building looking up as it seemingly grows before your eyes, you are immersed in the cultural identify of Japan that includes reverence for the past and tradition while simultaneously embracing modernity and futurism. The beauty and the intertextual meaning is paramount. It demonstrates the ways in which national identity is not static but a progression of complex and continuing negotiations between fluctuating domestic and international circumstances.

Takahiro Iwasaki - Reflection Model (Perfect Bliss)

Takahiro Iwasaki - Reflection Model (Perfect Bliss)


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