Curator: Sari Paran
“Wabi-sabi”, “The Way of Tea” and the beauty of the flawed
Arie Kutz, architect
The arrival of Zen Buddhism to Japan in the 12th century profoundly influenced Japanese aesthetics for centuries. It peaked with the aesthetic revolution in the end of the 16th century, led by a group of intellectuals from Kyoto in a format they referred to as the “The Way of Tea”. This group promoted into the cultural scene of seemingly “flawed” products while admiring the imperfect, the twisted, the rustic, the discovery of the neglected – often for the sake of a new role – all in an aesthetic appearance they established to be known as “Wabi-sabi”.
The “Wabi-sabi” aesthetic took longer than other Japanese styles to reach the west. The first enthusiasts were leading British artists of the Arts and Crafts movement. The gap between the Japanese “rustic”, “flawed” or “twisted” and the colorful and decorative art of the west nurtured the movement which focused on returning towards the origins of the traditional arts and crafts and the “truth” in the “functional” rural craftsmanship. Direct contacts were made between the British movement and the main artisans in Japan. The most important one was the deep personal connection between the British potter Bernard Leach and Japanese ceramics artist Hamada Shoji. From there on, the “Wabi-sabi” spread in many directions during the 20th century, some in secondary and tertiary connections. Jackson Pollock’s work, for example, should remind us that it was Japanese tradition which showed the world of the arts how to let the creation process and methods influence the final product in a profound and sometimes partially uncontrollable way. This idea, foreign to the historical western art, is a direct consequence of the 16th-century Japanese revolution.
In the exhibition at Periscope gallery BIKAKU studio presents a direct and personal interpretation of this unique Japanese tradition.
In the work presented here you can see traces of the creation process and its direct influence, not always controlled or deliberate, on the product. The metalwork, being the base of all the pieces, always leaves traces of the process and the tool mark. The natural flaws of the raw material receive a central place in all of BIKAKU’s creations. Flaws are not hidden but lead the character of the piece. Straight from the “The Way of Tea” esthetics we notice BIKAKU’s search for “trivial” materials such as building weaved metal strings or steel rods from reinforced concrete. Materials are given a new place, different to the one originally intended. In the same manner, new life is given to old iron from deserted buildings in the current creations of the studio.