Tuesday 13 July 2021

Ikebana Performance with Paul Grabowsky

Postponed to Saturday 10 September 2022: The Details

Ikebana Performance & Contemporary Art

Shoso Shimbo

Ikebana. One of the most important premises in the modernist art movements was to depict objects as they really are rather than the way we see them. Cubism and Abstract Art were early attempts to create a new order in the twentieth-century art.

A similar but more meditative view was expressed in Senno Kuden (1542), one of the early texts on ikebana. Senno stated that ikebana should be created based on “omokage” of such materials as flowers and leaves. Omokage is not the image we see but is more the conceptual essence of the materials. Just like some Cubist artists moved their focus from visual representation to conceptual representation, ikebana artists move beyond the visual aspect of the flowers and seek to grasp their essence through meditation.

Senno also said that ikebana as a product represents “onozukara naru sugata”, the essence of the universe. Just like Abstract Art can be seen to represent virtues such as order, purity, simplicity and spirituality, ikebana stands for essence of the universe, which I call Wa: Fluid Harmony in my performance. Ikebana in this sense is abstract assemblage rather than floral decoration.

Ikebana Performance. Inspired by Abstract Expressionism, artists such as Georges Mathieu and Kazoo Shiraga used performance to show that the artist’s creative act is equally important to the artwork produced.

Ikebana performance similarly aims to shift attention from the final piece of art to the artist’s actions. However, the process of creation is not based on a fixed plan. Art exists in real space and real time and Grabowsky’s music becomes part of the materials as Shoso brings the piece together. The live music constantly transforms the whole composition of the work. Such transformation shares an aspect of chess that fascinated both Marcel Duchamp and Lewis Carroll. The emerging work is a dynamic matrix, an interplay of symmetries and asymmetries in harmony with the music.