It is very fine and made by hand. Astonishing effects and moods are created when light shines through it. Washi is the name of this Japanese paper. Koji Shibazaki is the artist who makes it to perfection with his own hands and then combines it with the ingredients of light and shadow to form unique installations. Each of these works of art seems to be alive, with flowing structures that can have an air of absolute stillness, or suggest harmonious movement and even static rhythm.
Koji Shibazaki was born in Kyoto in 1964 and is now a professor at Aichi University of the Fine Arts in Nagakute. He obtained his ‘Bachelor of Fine Arts’ here in 1988, subsequently worked as an interior architect and media designer, and also holds a ‘Master of Business Administration’. To work in all these dimensions it is necessary to be very versatile, and versatility is also a word that can be applied to Shibazaki’s favourite work material, Washi: It is particularly tear-resistant and non-buckling, but also very soft and non-aging. It has thus been used for a long time in the artistic areas of calligraphy and painting. Traditional Japanese book production, however, is also unthinkable without Washi. When Koji Shibazaki discusses the basic material of his creations, it’s almost if he’s talking about an old friend. ‘You have to have a lot of experience with it to know it properly.’ For 12 years he has been producing Washi together with students – this is the best way they can learn about it. The paper workshop at Aichi University is also the result of many years of experience, as Shibazaki went to Washi production centres all over Japan and carried out intensive research into all areas of his country’s culture connected with traditional Japanese paper.
Shibazaki has already had 17 exhibitions in Japan and the U.S., including one in which his installations were displayed together with showpieces by René Lalique, probably the most important Art Déco jewellery and glass artist.‘Shadow. Light. Structure’. in the Museum Fünf Kontinente is the biggest exhibition of Shibazaki’s installations in Europe so far. Here he combines Washi with light. In a darkened environment light sources built into paper objects or illuminating them from the outside create extraordinary optical effects in combination with the precisely arranged layers of paper. No daylight enters the exhibition room and the darkness creates a dense, mysterious atmosphere. It suggests the lighting of traditional Japanese rooms, which originally consisted of a single light source: a lamp with a paper shade. In the exhibition the subtle reflection of gold and silver foil and mica powder on the paper creations of Koji Shibazaki produces very special moods, which are formed by the interplay of light, structure and shadow and are simply enchanting. These are enhanced by interaction with the creations of a pupil of Shibazaki’s, Mikako Suzuki. With an instinctive feel for effect, she has applied extremely fine, shiny foil to the paper surfaces using the silkscreen technique.
Further Informations concerning the "Japan-Jahr 2019": www.japan-muc.de