View all News & Photos

New Art Exhibition Turns Human Ingenuity Upside Down

A preview from Iwasaki’s studio: Reflection Model (Rashomon), 2023 Takahiro Iwasaki, Courtesy of ANOMALY

Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception To Feature Work of Japan Institute Artist-in-Residence

Starting on Sunday, September 24 and running through Monday, December 4, Portland Japanese Garden will debut its new art exhibition in its Pavilion and Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Galleries, Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception. Featuring the work of Japan Institute’s Artist-in- Residence, Takahiro Iwasaki, this Hiroshima-based artist gained worldwide recognition when he represented Japan at the 2017 Venice Biennale, a renowned contemporary art and architectural exposition often described as the Olympics of the art world. Iwasaki’s architecturally accurate models of historic Japanese sites are transformed into immersive installations, where his sculptures are suspended off the floor with an inverted duplicate model assembled underneath. Known for his Reflection Model series, Iwasaki plays with multiple perspectives, inviting his viewers to encounter the miniaturized work from different points of view, moving around to experience alternative angles, heights, and to savor the intricate details of man-made construction. Simultaneously beautiful and awe-inspiring, each Reflection Model enchants, yet also gives the viewer pause to contemplate the nature of the built environment, human ingenuity, and what it means for it all to be turned upside down.

Takahiro Iwasaki, Japan Institute Artist-in-Residence. Photo by Nozomi Tomoeda

Originally scheduled for 2020, Iwasaki visited Portland in advance of his residency to take in the city and meet with Aki Nakanishi, the Garden’s Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art and Education. After deciding which historic monument to construct back in his Hiroshima studio for his Portland exhibition, Iwasaki’s pre-pandemic visit also involved exploring the area to discover what elements define our local urban environment. In addition to his larger-scale architectural sculptures, Takahiro Iwasaki is also recognized for taking mundane, manufactured objects from daily life—duct tape, pencils, toothbrushes, towels—and transforming them into minuscule versions of familiar landmarks that suggest his surroundings. Fragile sculptures emerge from familiar objects, depicting imposing structures on an intimate and delicate scale that invites a sense of wonder.

Iwasaki’s previous work: Reflection Model (Ship of Theseus), 2017. Keizo Kioku, courtesy of the Japan Foundation, ©Takahiro Iwasaki, Courtesy of ANOMALY

The goal of Japan Institute’s Artist-in-Residence program is to give artists the opportunity to create
outside of their usual context. It is an experience that connects emerging and acclaimed artists to
the Pacific Northwest through gaining access to local materials and human resources while working
within Portland Japanese Garden. For visitors, the work created and situated in the Garden provides a
new perspective of the landscape and its enduring connection to contemporary art and culture. Japan
and Portland Japanese Garden eagerly anticipate Takahiro Iwasaki’s time in Portland as he
explores the built environment of the city and manicured nature of the Garden.

Takahiro Iwasaki: Nature of Perception is supported by ANOMALY.

Tour the Exhibition Online