November 30, 2010

Shihoko Fukumoto at the Portland Japanese Garden

A visit to the Portland Japanese Garden is always a breath of fresh air, but last month an exhibit by Shihoko Fukumoto in the Garden’s Pavilion took this visitor’s breath away. A resident of Kyoto, Fukumoto is a textile artist specializing in the Japanese tradition of shibori, or bind-resist dyeing, with indigo. The Pavilion, with its natural light, fine bamboo and wood craftsmanship, and views across the evergreens to Portland city center, provides the perfect backdrop for “Indigo is the Color of My Dreams.”

Image by Jonathon Ley for the Oregonian

The installation includes a variety of natural fiber textiles (ramie, linen, cotton, pineapple fibers and washi paper) tie-dyed and dip-dyed with precision to create rich and deep blues in contrast to soft whites. Fukumoto emphasizes another tradition of Japanese culture, the Japanese teahouse, by utilizing her gentle textiles as walls, ceiling and curtains of a tea room. The partial transparency of the walls recall shoji, rice paper screens, and yet the walls, swaying and breathing in a slight wind, point to the absence of kimono­-clad tea ceremony practitioners. Now there are only ghosts.

A series of large rectangular resist-dye textiles hang elegantly from the ceiling, and as the viewer moves along the edge of the parallel fabrics, the different degrees of transparency and slightly shifting perspective creates a subtle optical illusion. The clarity of line and deepness of the indigo evoke a controlled boldness, such as the force and grace of an ocean wave or the brightness of the full moon. One wonders if Fukumoto is evoking these natural bodies on purpose, or if her abstract shapes speak a poetry open to interpretation.

The essence of Fukumoto’s exhibit is calm and soft, and the artist’s technical perfection reveals her mastery of this traditional Japanese art form, while the poetics of the installation establish her within the framework of contemporary art. Diane Durston, Curator of Art, Culture & Education, has again brought excellent and thought-provoking work to the Japanese Garden.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...