Contemporary Craft: Japanese Folk Art at the Pace Gallery in London

A fascinating exhibition, currently showing at the Pace Gallery in London, explores the historical Japanese folk craft movement, Mingei through a series of sculpture, painting, ceramic and textile works.

“Dishonesty, depravity, and luxury – this is what Mingei objects must avoid at all costs; all that is natural, sincere, safe and simple – these are the characteristics of Mingei art.” – Sōetsu Yanagi (source: the Japan Folk Crafts Museum)

Running until January 18th, 2014, “Mingei: Are You Here?” is curated by contemporary art critic Nicolas Trembley (contributor to Artforum Magazine), and endeavors to shed light on the teachings of Japanese philosopher, Sōetsu Yanagi, who led the Mingei folk art movement during then early twentieth century.

The term Mingei – translating as “arts of the people” – derived from Yanagi’s stay in Korea during the early 1920s, during which he became enamored by the everyday, household pottery objects of the Yi Dynasty period (1932 – 1910) – simple, utilitarian jars and teacups handmade by unknown, local artisans, and found abundantly across Korean households, for centuries.

During his time in Korea, Japan was undergoing a dramatic period of growth and urbanization, and thus, inspired by the timeless quality of Korean design – and of the Arts and Crafts movement that was sweeping Europe at that time – Yanagi returned to Japan in a bid to champion and preserve Japan’s arts and cultural heritage.

Visitors can expect to be enchanted by more than eighty works on display, comprising historical pieces, and in addition, those contemporary designers and architects inspired by “the philosophy of Mingei”, such as Bauhaus member Josef Albers, and French designer Charlotte Perriand. Watch the video above to preview some of the designs on display.

“Mingei: Are You Here?” – at the Pace Gallery, 6-10 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LB – will run until January 18, 2014. – Samantha Fox

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