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Pearl Lam Galleries
Pearl Lam Fine Art
No. 181 Middle Jiangxi Road, G/F
Shanghai, China 200002   map * 
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Life Thread by Sayaka Ishizuka
by Pearl Lam Galleries
Location: Pearl Lam gallery Shanghai
Date: 12 May - 23 Aug 2014

Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present Sayaka Ishizuka: Life Threads, the emerging Japanese artist’s first solo exhibition in China and outside Japan, featuring 11 new pieces especially created for the show. Works will include a site-specific installation, for which the artist is most known, as well as mixed media on canvas, collages consisting of various coloured chopsticks mounted on wooden boards, a collage created from rice on an acrylic light box, and a new video.

Sayaka Ishizuka’s works explore the interconnectedness of humankind, focusing on the stories of everyday objects and those who use them. In Japanese traditions, inanimate objects contain traces of the holders’ spirit, as well as their personal emotions and memories. The artist takes common overlooked items in daily life as her materials, such as grains of rice, broken plates or bowls, worn-out kimonos, photos of cherry blossoms and household items, which are often connected with threads and suspended in the space of her site-specific installation works, Ishizuka tacitly transforms these mundane objects into simple yet profound spatial configurations, in which she believes the objects’ lives are linked and woven together into the ‘thread’ of human life. In Japanese, the exhibition title literally means ‘connecting lives together’.

Rice Deity (2014), a walk-in installation newly produced for this exhibition encompassing a third of the gallery space, consists of 4,200 handmade strings of rice grains hung from the ceiling, as well as used utensils and an old table collected from antique markets in Shanghai. Ishizuka spent 18 months developing the work, which was first conceived for a 2009 project in Echigo-Tsumari, an area known for its top quality rice production in Japan, and exhibited in an old deserted Japanese house. The artist immersed herself in researching rice production, living and working with rice farmers for six months. She views rice as the seeds of life, representing warmth, nourishment and sustenance, with the threads of rice symbolising the link between the past and the present in an infinite chain of life.

By presenting Rice Deity in Shanghai, a modern environment with its own rice culture, Ishizuka mentioned the human affinity with rice and its centrality to lived culture in Asia are mutual in both Japan and China, and by collecting used utensils in Shanghai, the artist creates the connection between her work and the city’s past and history.

Waiting #1 (2014) consists of five old bobbins sourced in Japan spooled with handmade threads of rice. The artist uses silver and gold threads to connect the grains, representing the radiance of life. Other works which utilise rice and thread include a light box collage entitled Journey (2014), as well as mixed media paintings Sleeping (2014) and The Rain Pours (2014), in which cotton threads or threads of rice are attached to the canvas and covered in layers of red, green and gold acrylic paint before being enshrouded in black oil paint. After the paint has dried, Ishizuka carefully sands the area where the threads are, so delicate white lines emerge from the darkness to represent the light of vitality and what the artist calls ‘life ties’.

A new series of multi-coloured collages Connection, For the Future and Genetic have also been newly created for the exhibition. They consist of well-used chopsticks acquired from friends and acquaintances in Japan, which are also rolled with gold and silver thread to suggest people’s aspirations and the light of life. In these works, Ishizuka refers to an old Japanese custom of burning chopsticks at Shinto shrines. Chopsticks were believed to contain their owner’s soul, and it was believed that an offering would cleanse the holder spiritually. Ishizuka refers to the notion of inner spirituality in these works. By using colour gradation and shaping her composition, she also refers to traditional scrolls.

*image (left)
courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries 

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