Mio Akashi Hagakure – Behind the Leaves



December 4 – December 19, 2014

Curated by Alison Bradley

Opening Reception: Thursday, December 4, 6-8PM

ISE Cultural Foundation is preased to present “Hagakure – Behind the Leaves” a solo exhibition by Mio Akashi curated by Alison Bradley at the Front Space.

Mio Akashi’s photographs evoke a deep respect of nature, serenity, order and grace. Her images of landscapes and flowers and trees profoundly resonate with her Japanese background, her commitment to the study of tea ceremony, and knowledge of Shinto religion. The artist delineates nature in a painterly fashion, a gesture that seems inextricably linked together along the lineage of Japanese Art of screen and scroll. Akashi’s mature sensibilities cast across the nature of her Connecticut wilds creating photographs that summon a history and a gesture of Kyoto or Kamakura, all the while located on a local inhabitant.Alison Bradley – Curator

To refer to the work of Mio Akashi as nature photography seems an understatement. It is far too mystical. The smoky, misty layers of atmosphere in her color photography compel you to look further as if there is more to be revealed. Many of her color photographs are so subtle and her black and white photos of trees devoid of their leaves such as Night Ash I (2012) are riveting in their simplicity.The Gunn Memorial Library Exhibition (October 4 to November 15, 2014)

“Hagakure” is a symbolic term favored by old Japanese poets. Objects of Hagakure – hiding behind the leaves – are subtle underlining elements that remain unknown until you come upon them.

Born and raised in Japan, Mio Akashi graduated from Kwansei Gakuin University in Hyogo, Japan with a BA in English Literature. She lived in Tokyo where she worked in publishing as an editor and translator before moving to New York City in 1986, where she studied interior design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduating with a BFA in Interior Design and Fine Arts in 1991.

After a career as an Interior Designer, she developed an interest in photography. She started studying at the International Center of Photography from 2000. In 2003, when Akashi began spending weekends in Litchfield County, Connecticut her interests in landscape, design and photography merged.

Akashi shares of one of her revelations: “One afternoon during the long stay at my country cottage I saw nature’s form obscured behind the veil of summer leaves. The weather battered old trees with twisted trunks, thick rambling brush and tangled branches of abundant apple orchards – I could see them as natural art forms … I had traveled over a half around the world exploring several mediums and careers. My search ended on that afternoon. I found art hiding behind the leaves in my backyard.”

Image: “Night Ash I” 2012, Archival Pigment Print, 36” x 36” © 2014 Mio Akashi. All rights reserved

Ōyama Enrico Isamu Letter Letterscape


October 17 – December 19, 2014

Opening Reception: Friday, October 17, 6-8PM
Performance Event: Saturday, November 8, 4-6PM

ISE Cultural Foundation is pleased to present Letterscape, a solo exhibition by Tokyo-born NYC-based artist Ōyama Enrico Isamu Letter at the Front Space.

For more than a decade, Ōyama’s practice has been centered on “Quick Turn Structure,” a signature visual style of the artist that was uniquely developed and translated from the visual language of graffiti culture. By removing letterforms and by extracting only repetitive motion of lines from there, QTS is built up into a pure abstraction in contrast to name-writing that is the general form of graffiti.

In this exhibit, Ōyama re-addresses letters as media from a different angle. “Letterscape,” which is a set of 2 collages made of mixed materials from the Western and Eastern worlds, including various letters written in a different time and location and sent to New York, and pages of an account book from Edo period with brush-written letters on Japanese paper, depicts a panorama of letters that multiple and overlay in its approximately 20 feet wide screen. Different from typed letters, those cursive, personalized, hand-written letters connote the ambiguity of this media that are gradationally both visual objects and carriers of meanings at the same time, sorting the viewers into those who have the literacy of reading them and understand their meanings and those who are not.

“Letterscape” which includes numerous people’s names and addresses written on envelopes, somehow recalls a cityscape from a bird’s eye view.

The Japanese critic Tetsuo Kogawa once said that Manhattan “looks like piles of typed letters when looking over from above.” If this represents the planned order of Manhattan with tall buildings and grids, “Letterscape” with hand-written cursive letters reveals another, probably more real Manhattan that is generated by the hustle and bustle of the streets. In this way, we are allowed to equate the torn pieces of collaged letters with fragmented sounds in a high traffic area of city space.

Lastly, “Letterscape” reminds us of a “wall” where traces of peeled-off posters are layered over and over. This tells us that the letters there can be considered also as a metaphor of scribbles on the wall, and so this piece also has a relation to graffiti culture. The fact that there is small QTS embedded in each piece silently emphasizes this relationship.

Image: Ōyama Enrico Isamu Letter “Letterscape #1 (FFIGURATI #60)” (detail, work in progress), 2014, Mixed Media, 2’9” x 19’3”

Opening Reception
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Performance Event
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