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Shiseido Gallery
Tokyo Ginza Shiseido Building
Basement floor, 8-8-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 104-0061, Japan   map * 
tel: +81 3 3572 3901     fax: +81 3 3672 3951

As it should be
by Shiseido Gallery
Location: Shiseido Gallery
Artist(s): Ritsue MISHIMA
Date: 12 Apr - 19 Jun 2011

Mishima Ritsue moved to Venice in 1989, and began visiting the glass workshops of the Murano islands to collaborate with the glass artisans there from 1996. In 2001 she was awarded the Giorgio Armani prize for Best Artist at Sotheby's Contemporary Decorative Arts Exhibition held in London. Her major shows in recent years have included a solo show in 2007 at the Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum in Nagaizumi, Shizuoka, an exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and a solo show at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the Netherlands last year.

Venetian glass, known for its beautiful colors and magnificent designs, offers a distinct appeal that has continued across the ages. It is noted for its high transparency compared to other types of glass, as well as for its relative softness that allows it to be hand-worked into very fine designs under heat, and last but not least for the high skill of the artisans who have become famous for creating it. Ritsue Mishima's works clearly take advantage of these special characteristics. While the majority of Venetian glass is colored, Mishima insists on leaving hers perfectly untinted. “I leave them clear because that way they can melt into their surroundings. The light passing through will let only their contours remain to leave them with a floating, ethereal quality.” In Venice today, Mishima is said to be perhaps the only artist working almost exclusively in clear glass. Always plumbing the possibilities for glass, Mishima challenges herself constantly to find new expressions breathing fresh new perspectives into the venerable thousand-year old tradition of Venetian glass craft.

Rather than conceiving the design first and then attempting to duplicate it in glass, Mishima instead allows the creative process itself to change and evolve the forms she is working with. Through her interactions with other craftspeople, and by not resisting the change and flow of her materials, Mishima applies her skills in a way that simply allows new forms to emerge into being.

Sometimes the organic forms clearly present in Mishima's works are inspired by natural elements like water or trees, but she says she also gets ideas from the honey-like flow of the molten glass glowing red from the fire. She also draws a great deal of inspiration simply from attempting to “sense the air of a situation.” With this in mind, it will not be surprising to find, in this exhibition of about twenty-five works, a mix of representative previous pieces alongside new ones created through Mishima's sense of the “air” of the Ginza district around the Shiseido Gallery.

Of the Shiseido Gallery's long, narrow, corridor-like staircase Mishima remarks, “It struck me as kind of like a sacred entrance path to some world deep below.” Indeed, this exhibition will give the Shiseido Gallery a sanctuary-like feeling—sacred paths, altars, fountains—all designed by architect Jun Aoki to imbue the space with a sense of serene harmony ideal for highlighting such works of glass.

The exhibition title, As It should be, comes from a proverb by the early Kamakura-era Buddhist priest Myōe. In Japanese the expression sounds like an admonition to “take things as they come” or “live as one should at first.” In fact, however, the true meaning espoused by Myōe was more like: “For each time, and for each situation, in each time and place, ask ‘What indeed is supposed to be?’and then attempt to live the answer.” In this spirit, the title of the exhibition was chosen by Mishima, who was questioning herself in the process of creation “Where do the forms come from, and wherein do they reside?” One and all are invited to experience the world of Ritsue Mishima, her creations in glass as well as the entire space around them.

*Hayao Kawai “Myōe Living a dream” Kodansha Ltd. Japan, October 1995, p.253

About the Artist

Born in Kyoto, Japan, Ritsue Mishima moved to Venice, Italy in 1989 and has been based there ever since. In 1996 she began visiting the glass workshops of Murano and collaborating with the artisans there. In 2001 she was awarded the Giorgio Armani prize for the "Best Artist" at Sotheby's Contemporary Decorative Arts Exhibition (London). Her recent major exhibitions have included: Particelle Silenziose at the Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum in 2007; 100 Years After- Unrealized Archaeology at ShugoArts in 2008; a display in the Venetian Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009; and Frozen Garden / Fruits of Fire at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Netherlands) in 2010.

Public Collections
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Netherlands)
Frans Hals Museum (Netherlands)
Glass Museum Alter Hof Herding (Germany)
Museum Jan Van Der Togt (Netherlands)
Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum (Japan)

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