Just before Christmas, I stole a few moments to catch this stunning exhibition at London’s Japan House in its final days.
Delicate and innovative paper works by 15 designers, architects and graphic artists were exhibited alongside paper artefacts by Takeo Paper, the japanese manufacturer of fine paper. The Takeo Paper Show is an institution, commissioning innovative paper creation and design since 1965! You can see past exhibitions here.
The curator, director and visionary for this exhibition is Hara Kenya, Chief Creative Director for the global Japan House project. Hara is a prolific graphic designer whose design studio produces work in all areas of design from branding to exhibtion design via signage and product design.
The show featured his ingenious paper packaging for French pâtissier Pierre Hermé (you can see it here), aswell as his own artwork which I loved, see below.
In the words of Japan House:
“The SUBTLE exhibition explores the influence of Japanese minimalism, inviting visitors to observe each innovative artwork up close and in minute detail.”
The star of the show for me was the work of Misawa Haruka, Paper Flower, pictured below. What initally looked like banal pencil shavings soon revealed delicate lines of colour. The closer I looked, the more detail I saw.
It soon became apparent that she made paper ‘pencils’ in order to create these beautifully delicate shavings. Scattered across the white background, their fragile silhouettes and irregular edges feel free and unplanned. Yet their colourful hues reveal the artist’s intention, aswell as meticulous planning and craft. A feast for the eyes.
Chocolate’s hats, the incredible laser cut translucent structures by Hara Kenya I mentioned earlier, pictured below – tricky to capture but I hope these give you a sense of what they were.
The almost invisible translucent material gave a solid shadow which had more weight than the piece itself, making for a playful changing view as I walked around them. Sculptural and tiny, they drew the viewer into a kind of minuscule contemplation: not dissimilar to the feeling I get at the jewellery bench, actually – drawn into a minute world.
In another section of the exhibition, industrial processes of paper products manufacture were used to express different ideas. I was especially taken with this piece called Opening/Unfolding (pictured below), exploring the idea of things being irreversible. These half-open gaps were so inviting.
This work also highlighted the beauty of paper engineering that surrounds us in everyday objects and packaging, which is highly functional – but goes un-noticed most of the time.
Drawn in for mindful observation, I was in awe of the ingenuity on show. Subtle was a brilliant showcase of Japanese creativity. It highlighted the power of doing things in a quiet, sensitive way, without needing to shout. (Notice how I’m feeling the need to write this in bold. Ha ha!)
I hope we’ll be lucky enough to see another Takeo Paper Show in London sometime soon. Find out more about Japan House events here.
You can view my jewellery with paper here.