Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Kiyoshi Awazu

On Sunday I went to a great exhibition of the works of Kiyoshi Awazu, at a tiny gallery in a huge building in Miyanosawa, Sapporo.

Seriously, the gallery is like, three rooms and some wall-space in the hall, and the building is enormous. The reason is, it looks like the rest of the complex is given over to holding wedding ceremonies and receptions. I think I mentioned it before, but they have their own wedding chapel, and this time I arrived when one was actually going on. The entrance was crowded by young people in suits and spectacular dresses, and inside elderly relatives chaperoned howling child-beasts to the toilet and back. The staff are always immaculately turned out, of course, so it was pretty much me and the two other women in the gallery who were wearing anything the slightest bit casual. I mean, being a six foot five caucasian I'm pretty used to standing out, but this was a whole new level of sore-thumbness. As you're walking between the gallery's two sections you go past a huge panoramic window looking out onto the wedding chapel garden, and looking up at the rest of the building I could see backs of the bride and groom as someone made a speech next to them. It was kinda fun really.

The gallery is small, but it's really good. They use their space really well, and they have a weird hobbit-sized door that connects two of the bits together. I have no idea why they would use a doorway that even Japanese people have to stoop to get through, but it works really well for making you take a good long look at the room you're stepping into, since for all you know there's a gallery attendant lurking out of sight ready to bash you on your head as you emerge.

Bash you on the head and sell your body. To ART.

Anyhow, Awazu (who has a spectacularly comprehensive website here) seems to have become famous through his poster work, which allowed him the freedom to make a bewildering amount of other art. Paintings, sculptures, installations, books on design theory... it's a pretty darn impressive body of work. His posters were for everything from films to plays to political rallies (he seems to have worked often with anti-war organizations) and they comprised the majority of the exhibition. They were really awesome, and showed off a fantastic sense of design:

I love that one for The Friends, the flag-faced guy really reminds me of some of DoseOne's work for his band Subtle. And since Subtle are one of my favourite bands... it'd be nice to think I'm clocking their influences.

Like I said, his website is stocked, in English, and most of you can't really make it out to this tiny exhibition in the middle of nowhere, so check it out.

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