Making visible the delicate feeling of air
Machiko Agano was initially trained as a weaver, undertaking her education at the Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan. She now creates large installations using basic techniques and equipment and a wide range of materials. Her concern for the simplicity of her materials is contrasted to the complex nature of her works, in which structural tension, form, space and light all play a significant role.
Machiko Agano was initially trained as a weaver, undertaking her education at the Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan. She now creates large, often monumental installations using the most basic of techniques and equipment and a wide range of materials.
During the earlier stages of her artistic career, she felt it important to use "natural materials to express natural feelings" and often made use of silk and bamboo. Her practice has since expanded to incorporate other materials, which are selected according to the specific conditions of the spaces in which she works.
Her preference is for materials of neutral or no colour, which allow the colour of the surrounding area to suffuse and permeate the work. Respectful of her materials, Agano states that there should be no sense of finality in her works; rather each of the elements that make up a work should be able, as she puts it, to "breathe their own reality"
In 2001, Agano was one of the key participants in the remarkable ´Textural Space´ project in the UK, originated by the the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College and partly funded by Visiting Arts. The project involved thirteen leading contemporary Japanese textile artists and featured large-scale work that explored, in innovative ways, the three-dimensional potential of textiles within an installation format.
Agano´s contribution was a temporary site-specific installation at Fabrica, a de-consecrated church in Brighton. Using fishing line wire, silk, stainless steel wire and hand-made paper, Agano constructed a breathtaking 15m x 10m x 4m hand-knitted installation. With the help of very large needles, she used the garter stitch in an irregular pattern to weave a vast net. According to Lesley Millar, curator of the project, the desire was "to convey and make visible the delicate feeling of air"
In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Millar describes the complexity of Agano´s work:
"Paradoxically, although the work has the appearance of soft drapes and folds, the materials themselves are not soft. The form and tension of the work is created by its particular hang. The installation is fixed at points attached to the ceiling and floor, sometimes a change of texture and weight at the various ´points´. through the addition of hand made paper, holds the work in position. The structural core of her work is clearly defined but the edges less so. The form suggests the space, moving from these very specific reference points towards less well-determined boundaries"
As important as the main structure itself is its relationship and interplay with the space which it inhabits. The use of light, in particular, is very specific. Millar again: "When the work is lit artificially, the drama of shadow and light emphasises the structure and re-defines the space. However when natural light is used, the play of light both reveals and conceals, it changes throughout the day constantly transforming the shape and colour of the work."
Agano also contributed a smaller work to the exhibition, which was made with bamboo and silk organza, and had, as Millar describes it, "the delicate beauty of coral moving in the water or gills gently breathing".
Due to the success of the Textural Space project, and in particular to Agano´s contribution, she has been invited to participate in a second project initiated by the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, ´Through the Surface´. uilding on the relationships established during Textural Space, the organisers are establishing a mentoring/exchange scheme between Japanese and British textile practitioners with in an exhibition of the work produced as a result of working together.
As a well-established artist, Agano has been paired with emerging artist Anniken Amundsen. The progress of their collaboration can be viewed on the accompanying website, www.throughthesurface.com/. The project will culminate in an exhibition that will tour the UK in 2004 and Japan in 2005.
In addition to her installation at Fabrica in the UK, Agano has had several solo shows in Japan and has participated in several group exhibitions worldwide. She has won two awards for her works, many of which are held in public collections in Australia and Switzerland as well as in Japan.
Source: Based on text by Lesley Millar in the Textural Space´ catalogue and website
Author: Diana Yeh, Visiting Arts
Machiko Agano was born in 1953 and took her undergraduate and postgraduate education at Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan from 1974 to 1979. She currently teaches as a professor at Kyoto Seiko University, Japan. She has had solo shows in the UK and Japan and has participated in several group exhibitions worldwide.
GROUP EXHIBITIONS 1992–2003
Exhibition / Installation,
2002–2003 ‘Light, Thread and Shadow’, Tour, Bulgaria
2002 ‘Paper Works in Ino’, Kochi Prefecture, Japan
2001 ‘Textural Space’, UK touring exhibition
2000 ‘The Memories of Algae’, Rias Ark Museum, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
1999 ‘6th International Textile Competition’, Museum of Kyoto
1998 ‘Imaginations 98’, Gastuiskapel, Poperingse, Belgium
1996 ‘Container 96, Art Across Oceans’, Copenhagen, Denmark
1996 ‘Japanese Dyeing Weaving Textile’, Meguro Museum of Fine Art, Tokyo, Japan
1992 ‘Biennale Internationale de la Tapisserie’, Lausanne, Switzerland
SOLO EXHIBITIONS 1996–2003
Exhibition / Installation,
2003, Gallery Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
2001, Fabrica, Brighton , England
1999, Gallery Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
1997, Gallery Maronie, Kyoto
1996, Gallery Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
1993 Japanese Paper Academy Award, Fukui, Japan
1990 2nd Prize Kyoto Contemporary Crafts Exhibition, Japan
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
Contemporary Japanese Textile Art
(01 April 01 - 31 December 01)
Website of the ‘Textural Space’ project in the UK, originated by the the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK
Through the Surface
Website of ´Through the Surface´ forthcoming touring exhibition, organised by the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK