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Tokujin Yoshioka’s current exhibition “Crystallize” at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo (MOT) looks at nature’s poignant beauty, power, and energy through a study of crystals. By choosing a verb as his exhibition title, Yoshioka signifies the movement and vitality behind each of his works while describing the creation process and the primary material used to construct the pieces.
Upon entering the exhibit, the visitor steps into a white room, immediately immersed into a cloud-like structure of white straws. The straws can also be compared to water rapids or snow mounds, reflecting the powerful and peaceful movement of water and ice.
Viewers will be drawn to the next room by the sound of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” streaming through the speakers, which was also played during the crystallization process of some works on view. Yoshioka explains, “Life of nature and energy transforms a piece of music into a painting, and fosters a life in crystals.” A pool of liquid stands in the middle of the room, providing a glimpse into Yoshioka’s creative practice. On the walls, the finished pieces hang as dimensional paintings made of crystal sculptures.
In the next room, ROSE features a flower completely covered in crystals. Like the Enchanted rose from Beauty and the Beast, the Rose symbolizes eternal love as well as fleeting life. This sculpture differs from the rest in color, visibly buried beneath the crystal layers. It begs us to look deeper into the sculpture, to try and unearth the intricacies of the petals.
Nearby, Spider’s Thread showcases the shape of a chair, created by only seven threads upon which the crystals grew. It references the short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, where Buddha gives a criminal a slim chance of climbing out of Hell on a spider’s thread since he had once performed the moral deed of saving a spider. The sculpture symbolizes how one small deed, just like the seemingly frail pieces of string, can have a much larger impact.
The culmination of the exhibition is Rainbow Church, inspired by Yoshioka’s visit to the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence (Chapel of the Rosary) and its stained glass windows by Matisse. The room is filled with light in a myriad number of colors from prisms, similar to the colors streaming in through the windows of a church. Rainbow Church plays on the contradiction of a stark white room permeated with color and light.
The show is no doubt an ethereal experience, despite its exhibit focus on nature’s elements.
“Crystallize” will be on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo until January 19, 2013.