MARCH 5 - APRIL 25, 2009
Cavin-Morris Gallery has been interested in the fired books and magazines of Yohei Nishimura since first being introduced to his work via the Internet and our friend in Japan, Robert Yellin. Born in Kyoto in 1947, Nishimura’s work was for us the epitome of what the potential of non-functional ceramics could be. There is a dark poetry that speaks not only of apocalypse, but also of rebirth and strength. These books have been through a holocaust of flame and they have survived despite their seeming fragility. These are just some of the many messages mixed in Nishimura’s highly metaphorical works.
From the Toh Volume 38, Yohei Nishimura catalog written by Yuri Mitsuda & published in Japan:
“In his recent work he fires books at high temperatures without applying clay to them. Instead of fire mediating between paper and clay, the tension of paper and fire appears, unmediated. Fire becomes merely a material. Paper is [usually] reduced to ashes and collapses when burnt. To our surprise, however, a book retains a hint of its form, even at temperatures over 1000C and becomes beautiful white ruins--ruins that have lived through ages and are on the point of collapse.”
The word “ruins” is key here. The books’ meanings are obliterated in the flames, but their forms remain evocative and powerful, reminders of our ephemeral civilizations. Although they are still books their function as archival tomes is now non-existent.
This will be Yohei Nishimura’s first one-person exhibit in New York. He has been established as part of Japans’ edgy avant-garde and well known as a ceramicist, though Nishimura has moved beyond working only in clay as one of his modes of process. This exhibition features a significant grouping of his fired books.