Chika Ohgi creates three-dimensional installations from silk threads and paper that she makes herself. A crucial aspect of her work is the relation between the objects she has constructed, the space they occupy and the physical presence of the viewer. The indistinct edges of her paper structures, the continually shifting perspective of the viewer, the effect of flows of air created by the wind or by movement are all fundamental elements to experiencing her work.
‘The gaps between the objects and the external space (and) the outlines of the objects (are) the borders between existence and non-existence.’
Chika Ohgi uses traditional and non-traditional Japanese papermaking techniques with threads as a construction element to create contemporary three-dimensional artworks.
Her work often takes the form of an installation, for, as her statement above suggests, the significance of her constructions lie in their dramatic encounter with the space which they come to inhabit.
Both elements take on equal value, space and work becoming valued as an integrated whole.
Such an effect is heightened by the use of hand-made paper that the artist makes herself. Although Ohgi originally trained to work with print, she became fascinated by the nature of paper itself and turned her hand to its production, using kozo, ganpi, cotton and ramie.
As Ohgi makes the paper, she already has an idea of a final installation in her mind. The paper she makes allows her to create indistinct edges that form blurred outlines. The ambiguity between object and space becomes intensified.
In 2001, Ohgi participated in the innovative UK-based ‘Textural Space’ project, originated by the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK and partly funded by Visiting Arts, UK. In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, curator Lesley Millar points out that in Ohgi’s works, ‘The positive/negative relationship of form in space is diffused.’ She also emphasises the important role that the shadows play in her works.
The project brought together thirteen leading contemporary Japanese textile artists and featured large-scale work that sought to expand the three-dimensional potential of textiles within an installation format.
Ohgi’s contribution was composed of individual units. The installation ‘Walking Around the Lake’ comprised 60 pieces, while the piece ‘Water Pillar’ was made up of five towers of paper, each nearly 6 metres high, constructed from a modular system. The unitary method of construction is a device enabling her to cover large areas. These works were suspended freely, moving as people walked by, and responding to changes in humidity and flows of air.
The way in which Millar describes Ohgi’s pieces suggests that they are less valuable as object of visual pleasure than catalysts of specific, time-dependent, all-encompassing physical experience. She writes: ‘There is a balance in her work between the highly controlled and the accidental, the way in which the inadvertent gust of air reveals an unexpected aspect, providing a fresh perception of the juxtaposition of the work and the space.’
Millar points out that this haptic quality of Ohgi’s works is attained by incorporating the viewer physically. ‘The scale of Ohgi’s installations extends the work beyond our visual periphery. Therefore rather than look ‘at’ the work our understanding is enhanced by our becoming ‘part of’ the work.’
Millar argues that this is a fundamental concern to the artist and is considered at every stage of her conception and making. She explains, ‘Ohgi sees the various minor changes created by the physical interaction of random elements caused by the close presence of the viewer as an essential part of the installation. The perception of the work therefore is one of a differing focus across, through and around the work, inviting speculation about visibility, invisibility, structure, weight and weightlessness.’
For the ‘Textural Space’ project, Chika Ohgi was artist in residence for two weeks at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. She created a work in response to the centre’s permanent collection and to the architecture of the building, which was designed by Sir Norman Foster. Opening in 1978, as one of the most distinctive of Britain´s post-war buildings.
The installation was made from silk threads dipped, at intervals, in paper pulp. The artist ran two workshops in which participants contributed to the work. The threads were then weighted and hung across the mezzanine floor.
The resulting installation was one of understatement, echoing the Foster building. Millar writes, ‘The perfectly weighted threads turned slightly in the wind and as they did the paper fragments caught the light and then disappeared.’
Source: Based on texts by Lesley Millar in the ‘Textural Space’ catalogue and website
Author: Diana Yeh,Visiting Arts
Chika Ohgi was born in 1960. She studied at Seian Women´s College, Kyoto until 1982 and went on to take her Master of Fine Arts at Kyoto Seika University, graduating in 1987. She has had solo shows in Kyoto, Japan and in Canberra, Australia and has participated in group shows in Japan, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, UK and the USA.
Exhibition / Installation,
Rias Ark Museum, Miyagi, Japan
Exhibition / Installation,
2001 ‘Textural Space’, contemporary Japanese textile art, Foyer Gallery and James Hockey Gallery, Surrey, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Brighton, and Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, UK
2000 ‘The Memories of Algae’, Rias Ark Museum, Miyagi Prefecture
2000 ‘Emerging Images: Contemporary Expression through Japanese Hand-made Paper’, Mitaka City Arts Centre
1999 ‘SOFA ´99 NYC’, Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, USA
1998 ‘Imaginations ´98´ Gastuiskapel, Poperinge, Belgium
1997 ‘Shiga Annual ´Paper Work/The Repro-Action of Form´, Museum of Modern Art, Shiga
1996 ‘Paper Art Fashion’, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany
1996 ‘4th International Betonac Exhibition’, Cultural Centre de Bogaard, Belgium
1995 ‘The World of Paper’, National Museum of Art, Osaka
1992 ‘Biennale Internationale de la Tapisserie’, Lausanne, Switzerland Public Collections Rias Ark Museum, Miyagi
Exhibition / Installation,
1999 Hirakata Municipal Gotenyama Art Centre, Osaka
1998 Gallery Maronie, Kyoto
1998 Exhibition Space, Tokyo International Forum
1998 Canberra Museum Gallery, Australia
1997 Gallery Suzuki, Kyoto X-port, Axis, Tokyo
1995 Shoe Gallery Ota, Hyogo
1996 Grand Prix 4th International Betonac, Belgium
1994 Excellence Prize, Kyoto Crafts Bienalle
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 ‘Textural Space’ project originated by the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK