While we were at the SAMA conference this past spring, we had the opportunity to sit down for a long chat with the well known Japanese mosaic artist Toyoharu Kii who is also a leader in his country’s mosaic community. We both agreed that it was high time for better, stronger, more timely communications between the Eastern and Western mosaic worlds. We are excited, therefore, to publish this article by Toyoharu featuring award-winners from this year’s biennale mounted by the Mosaic Art Association in Japan. Here’s hoping for a continued lively exchange of ideas and innovation here on MAN. Enjoy – Nancie
We are happy to share these mosaic works shown at Mosaic Biennale 2013 hosted by the Mosaic Art Association in Japan (MAAJ) this past September 9th through 15th at the Yokohama Civic Gallery in Azamino, Japan. Founded in 1995, MAAJ has been hosting the Biennale since 2007 and it has become an important and valuable place for mosaic lovers to present their work to the public. Both members and non-members are encouraged to submit works. This year’s exhibition was juried by five people including Motohiro Hashimura, a veteran mosaicist, and myself.
In the prize-winning works presented here, you may notice some aspects that are common to all of them. First, marble is highly used. Second, many of the tesserae are square. Third, the grout lines are uniform. Finally, the surfaces are flat. These points indicate that Japanese mosaic artists are not yet free from their longing for Roman mosaics. This is because the information on mosaic trends and innovations from overseas is still not easy for us to obtain.
Since Japan is not physically close to Europe, we do not have the chance to see modern, energetic mosaics in person. Moreover, mosaic news is usually conveyed in English, French or Italian and so there is a language barrier which makes the situation worse. Even with these obstacles, we expect to see more vital works at MAAJ’s future exhibitions which we hope to mount on an annual basis beginning next year.
Grand Prize: Junkichi Miyauchi, Quattro Stagioni
This artist started making mosaics in the 1960s and is one of the pioneers in Japan’s mosaic community. He has departed from the Roman classic mosaic aesthetic but has continued to use basically square tesserae. Miyauchi’s unique characteristic exists in how he carefully shapes his tesserae to have small, rough expressions as if the tesserae had broken up naturally even though they have been cut very purposefully. We very much appreciated the lyrical expression throughout these works.
Second Prize: Nobue Ozaki Flower Goat & Osmunda Bird
Nobue Ozaki uses tesserae in the traditional way but we found a great sense of fun in the forms of her panels and the motifs she used. Most of the works in this year’s exhibition were serious and only a few came from playful minds. In that context, we chose her work.
Third Prize: Hisao Matsuo Don’t Tell What Was Seen in Woods
0.1 inch square marble tesserae are placed densely. We considered that the cumulation of the tesserae in this work is more than that of the mere stone materials that were used to make it and it is like it has been transformed into the image itself. The artist has achieved a highly elaborate expression and so he was awarded a prize.
Honorable Mention: Toshimi Mori AMBIVALENCE 1309
We valued the artist’s experimental attitude using also untraditional materials such as metal plates, woods and etc. not only the traditional ones. We hope other artists also will go beyond their existing standards, trying various ways of expression.
Encouraging Prize: Yoshimi Aizawa Following My Memories of Mt. ASO
This artist has ongoing poor sight and has difficulties in seeing the weak light. She built an image of a mountain scenery with her friend giving her the description of it on the mountain. We can feel her desire by any means to embody and express the things she can see. Also the materials are elaborately selected and made.
Encouraging Work: Kayoko Nakai The Bird Remembers His Life, 44″ H x 44″ W.
We see that this artist is still acquiring skills in working with tile, but appreciate her obvious will to devise new ways to work with this material as well as her sense of freedom and fun.
She has just graduated from university. She experienced mosaic at a workshop in the school and was fascinated began to make by herself. We wanted support her.
Juror’s Work: Motohiro Hashimura The Wind in the Sky
This the maquette of a much larger public work. It has “spreadingness”and is refreshing.
Juror’s Work: Toyoharu Kii, On the Way of Walking
This is my work. Italian marble called Perlino is used. I fear that it was made somewhat too compact and modest. I need more vigorous and wild tesserae.
We beg to differ with Toyoharu about the quality of this work which we see as another wonderful example of his mastery of positive and negative space, rhythm, texture and pattern. Many thanks to the artist for this article, his photographs, and the continued inspiration he provides to artists worldwide.
Attention class! Miss Marble (aka Lillian Sizemore) has spotted a wordy trend in contemporary mosaic and she’s going to use it to give us a grammar lesson. The good news is, there is no pop quiz at the end, so all you have to do is enjoy! Nancie
by Lillian Sizemore
UPDATED for Mosaic Art NOW from original post of November 28, 2011 All photos by author, Lillian Sizemore unless otherwise noted.
Recently, I’ve noticed there’s a contemporary art trend of using words or letters— language— as the mosaic itself. A ‘double entendre’ if you will. Entendre is French for “to hear”, So double entendre means a phrase that can be taken in more than one way… And there you have the irony of meaning. Do we hear or see mosaics?
Music, Muse, Mosaic, Museum…all derive from the same Greek root word, μουσική for music, a divine order…and mosaics are called l’arte musivum, the Art of the Muses.
Class dismissed. But, before you head for the cafeteria, have look at these:
Frost’s pieces, made entirely out of cast-off keyboard keys, discarded by an array of users from individuals and small businesses to financial institutions, government offices and Fortune 500 companies, can cover whole rooms. Each key has a unique history and bears the imprint of the thousands of taps by countless users.
See more of Sarah Frost’s work here.
Above, Samantha Holmes won a 2000 Euro prize for this piece for the Use of Unconventional Technique and Materials. Seen at the GAEM exhibition at Ravenna Mosaico 2011, this old wooden sample board normally used for mosaic samples of colored glass instead contains folded and bound papers bearing her private thoughts. Read an excellent recount of this work and the backstory from the artist on MosaicArt Now here.
In the photo below, Raniero Bittante’s multi-media mosaic-riff seen at the BIBLIOMOSAICO exhibition in Ravenna. The exhibition, conceived by Rosetta Berardi invited many mosaic artists to create mosaic ‘books’. Using three copies of the Repubblica Italiana, Italy’s constitution, each book is embellished with red, white and green smalti (colors of the Italian flag) and representing the fragmentation of unity – the wads of chewed bubble gum, the cohesion. The “mosaic work” was enhanced by a tiny video screening of citizens blowing bubbles – then the gum was used to stick the pieces (tesserae, in Italian) to the book. A tribute and reflection on Italy’s 150th year.
Referencing language in this page-turner of a mosaic, Jo Braun asks you to read between the lines. She says:
“It’s an experimental blending of contemporary mosaic and the hand-written essay of the tedious variety that school children dread.” – Jo Braun
I spotted this work at the KokoMosaico studio in Ravenna: a book filled with peering mosaic eyes.
Could these be any more adorable? photo via naturallyeducational.com Even the little ones are getting into the act…These DIY coasters employ Scrabble tiles into a heart-melting mosaic gift. What a fun Summer craft activity! See how to make them here.
For more of Lillian Sizemore’s great writing on MAN, go here. You can connect with her to on Twitter http://twitter.com/Musiva, either of her websites: Lillian Sizemore.com and San Francisco Mosaic.com or her blog Lillian Sizemore’s Mind’s Eye