Wednesday 10 February 2016

Ikebana Today 44

I have been writing about contemporary art, particularly about how important it is to have meaning, which depends on the context of the work. The question now is what is context? Takashi Murakami wrote an excellent book on the subject, “Geijutsu Tosoron”. Terry Barrett, in his book Making Art (2011), says that intrinsic context mainly refers to “the juxtaposition of parts within the whole and the meanings they evoke through proximity to one another”(p.16). Extrinsic context includes the life history of the artist, “the time and place in which the work is made” (p.17), and the art history.

I will try to follow the way that Murakami explained the concept of context in his book. Although I’m aware that this is not the best sample, I will talk about the sculpture I made to promote the Archibald exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in 2015.

This was a great challenge for me, particularly because the request was to make a human head. I have never made a human head before. Ikebana is mainly about abstract forms. Even Kiku Ningyo do not try to make human heads with flowers. When I made a test work, I was disappointed to realised that I could not do this. However, then I though, why shouldn’t I enjoy this rare opportunity without worrying about what other people think about my work? I decided to use a different strategy. When I attached some irregular massed wire balls, the face started to look alive. I thought this might work.

What was the context of this work? I’ll follow this up in the next issue.