Exploring Inner Universes with Chiharu Shiota

June 18, 2020 | Julie A.

In Inner Universe, currently setting in Galerie Templeton in Paris, Chiharu Shiota exposes the mental universes that are throbbing in her brain, through very sensual weaving sculpture and installation, inviting visitors to experience the exhibition as a large body.

Inner Universeexhibition's view - Out of my body, Chiharu Shiota, 2020 - 
7 pieces installation of cowhide leather and goat leather, variable dimensions
© courtesy of Galerie Templon, Paris

In the large place of the galerie, the artwork of Chiharu Shiota seems to be playing with the scales. At first sight, you can see artwork in their unity, distinct from the space they share. Weaves standing out their environment as drawn on a 3D canvas, yarns appearing like pencil strokes floating in the air. For the largest pieces, as the white dress caged in a cube of black yarns weave, or the large red threads suspend on the roof, you can first see the all pieces as a blurred drawing, or a swarm, evoking buried memories that emerging from the opacity of the psyche, or the capture of a moving organism.

Thus, the artist uses this technique to surround upcycling objects, as personal memories or, here, anatomy books. Again, there’s a subtle contrast between the book and the scientific pictures of the body, which describe precisely and with clinical gaze, the human machine, and the work of the artist, more abstract, but also much more organic. In their drawings, both the choice of matter - as oil and aquarelle - and the recurrent painted patterns, recalling the materiality of the human body, like cells, organs, blood, lymph or saliva.

Inner Universe, exhibition's view © courtesy of Galerie Templon, Paris 
Left : State of Being (Dress), Chiharu Shiota,2018 - metal frame, white thread and dress,
260 x 180 x 85 cm ; 102 3/8 x 70 7/8 x 33 1/2 in.

Right : Skin, Chiharu Shiota, 2020 - black thread on canvas, tryptic,
140 x 240 cm ; 55 1/8 x 94 1/2 in. (overall)

By using abstract structures around easily recognizable and daily objects, Chiharu Shiota calls for a revived gaze, an experience between representation and recognition. So our gaze is invited to “get on work”, looking for a path to see through the thread. Eyes and brain are then stimulated in a way that mental representations are changed. The objects as dress, books, chairs, offer a new vision of themselves in their delicate cages. They appear much more as pictures, impressions, blurred memories, than concrete and tangible objects we can touch.

As Shiota says herself, “the thread separates us from this physical presence within the object, but at the same time, this structure allows me to create a new space.”


Inner Universe, exhibition's view © courtesy of Galerie Templon, Paris, 2020
That’s the second aspect developed in this exhibition : the memory and it’s way to appear only in the form of fragments and pieces. Thus, on the floor, you can see little sculptures in bronze, casted from the body part of the artist’s family members. For the artist, these isolated parts bear much more affects and memories than the entire body representation. 

From littles things and microscopic bounds, the artist then build up new bodies and new universes, as complexes thread of multiples elements, and tell us how the tangible and intangible are intricate, how imagination is made from concrete forms and with tools like eyes, brains, and muscles, how blurred and multiple memories can be embodied in a single object as a dress, a foot, or a hands. Thus, the exhibition became a strange and moving, touching body, stimulating and interacting with the visitor's senses and imaginaries who go through it. And it is like we, anonymous visitors, build on an invisible thread between all her artworks, and keeping it alive.
Chiharu Shiota, Inner Universe, Galerie Templon May 30 - July 25 2020 Paris - Grenier Saint-Lazare.

You can visit the current show of the gallery in their Viewing Room. Discover the work of Chiharu Shiota on her website.

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