November 17, 2023
In “Gravity and Grace,” Japanese artist Shinji Ohmaki poses a broad, if not daunting, question: what does it mean to exist? The installation, which features an imposing vessel carved with flora and fauna, radiates from the center and casts shadows in varied sizes and opacities around the gallery. Bulbous near the base with a slimmer neck that reaches toward the ceiling, the work’s shape evokes the tower of a nuclear power plant and spills light in every direction.
This iteration of “Gravity and Grace,” which is part of a series ongoing since 2016, is included in Ohmaki’s exhibition Interface of Being on view now at Tokyo’s National Art Center. The solo show features works made in response to the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and caused the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to melt down and release radioactive water.
Reaching up to a whopping 840,000 lumens, “Gravity and Grace” harnesses the interplay of light and shadow to critique modern society’s dependence on energy, literally mapping illuminated patterns onto the viewers who pass by. The contrast also draws attention to nature’s cycles and the artist’s enduring interest in time and space, particularly the reminder that we all inhabit this planet for a relatively brief moment.
If you’re in Tokyo, you can see Interface of Being, which also includes a gossamer sculpture that undulates across the gallery like billowing fabric, through December 25. Otherwise, find more from Ohmaki on his site and Instagram.
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