For an American, born in the Bronx and never living too far from ‘the city’, there is a bit of a mental and physical adjustment one has to go through when traveling to Japan. Tokyo, especially the Akihabara section on my first trip there, was a whirlwind of signs, symbols and an almost surreal atmosphere that was way beyond what I was accustomed to. My second trip to Japan was far different, traveling to the west coast’s Fukui Prefecture where it is more rural, with rice fields stretching out to nearby mountain ranges. This time around, the wonderful way I started each day was with an energizing breakfast at Hotel Akishatei. That entire experience of morning greetings, and the beautiful and tasty food really got me primed and ready for the day’s visual art experiences.
The Tannan Art Festival, which was founded in 1993 by Yutaka Hatta, is a celebration of new art. As a community that has been active and observant of International Modern and Contemporary Art for 100 years, the Fukui Prefecture of Japan is also known for its paper-making in towns like Imadate, where the highest quality paper has been produced for 1,400 years.
The exhibition, which is held at two locations: the Sabae Contemporary Art Center’s temporary space and the Sabae City Main Building Museum, reveals the many ways in which nature, tradition and contemporary thinking can extend beyond the preconceived. The following is my take on a large portion of the works displayed.
Yutaka Hatta (Fukui, Japan) lives a life that is an inspiration to us all. Despite the fact that he lost his sight decades ago, Hatta continues at the age of 88, to create masterful work that continually teaches us new approaches to respond to the world around us in ways that ultimately feel freshly familiar. Hatta brings us back to our essence, our primordial memory of the earth before we covered it with concrete and asphalt. His art is the physical embodiment of contemplation, a state that can be both enlightening and calming for the viewer. Hatta’s work is a unique bridge between was we see and what we can feel and how our bodies and our minds process all that emotion and information. In Hatta’s art we see an energy that is ancient and modern, gestures that are as natural as wind blown grass or a raging river and as profound as any mark created by human hands – and like any…