Parafin is delighted to announce its second exhibition with the London-based Japanese artist and filmmaker, Hiraki Sawa. Sawa is known internationally for videos and installations that create powerful psychological situations by interweaving the domestic and the fantastic. Characterised by quietness and introspection, his works create compelling interior worlds and meditate upon themes of memory and displacement. Often presented in complex installations incorporating objects and drawings, Sawa’s works occupy a tangible dimension that sits between the parallel languages of sculpture and film.
The exhibition will feature UK premieres for three new film works, which were developed for the Reborn Art Festival, Ishonomaki, the Oku Noto International Triennial, Suzu and the Sapporo International Art Festival, Sapporo, all in 2017. fantasmagoria (2017) and fishstory (2017) are related works based on a family story about Sawa’s grandfather, who suffered a stroke as a young man. To check the bleeding on his brain, Sawa’s grandmother had to obtain ice to keep him cool, which in the remote part of the country where they lived was a very difficult task. Both films reflect upon this story and use images of an isolated man and woman, a ship, the sea, a lighthouse, and the struggle to transport a block of ice through the landscape to create an oneiric reality, evoking an ancient myth or folk story. This effect is enhanced by Sawa’s shifting of the point of view from sea to land.
The third work, ulo.ulo.ulo (2017) marks a radical departure for Sawa. Instead of the intimate interiors that are typical of his work, the film focuses on a series of surreal actions performed in darkness in a snow-bound landscape. Set on the frozen Lake Shuparo in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, the film follows a figure (the artist Tetsuya Umeda) as he performs a series of enigmatic actions lit only by a stark light bulb, creating magical effects. Sawa describes the events:
‘The idea was to light the lake from the inside, below the ice. So Tetsuya made his way across the surface with a drill and a large light bulb. I filmed from a distance as he bored through the ice – which, thankfully, was thick enough to stand on. He lowered the bulb through the hole, then pulled it from the water, swung it through the darkness and submerged it again. The way the light refracted through the water was incredible.’
However, Sawa’s film is not simply documentation of Tetsuya’s actions, but was rather shot and edited as an attempt at ‘sculpting time’, treating film itself as a sculptural medium.
Hiraki Sawa (b.1977, Ishikawa, Japan) received his BFA from the University of East London and his MFA from the Slade School of Art at University College, London. Sawa has exhibited extensively around the world. Important solo exhibitions include fig-2 at the ICA, London (2015), Dundee Contemporary Arts (2013), the MORI Art Museum, Tokyo (2013), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2007), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2006), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, (2006), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2005) and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2005). Important recent group exhibitions include Roppongi Crossing, Mori Art Museum (2016), the Biennale de Lyon (2013), Mono No Avare: Contemporary Japanese Artists, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2013), What We See, National Museum of Art, Osaka (2013), the Sydney Biennial (2010), 6th Asian-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2009), Automatic Cities: The Architectural Imaginary in Contemporary Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2009) and the Yokohama Triennial (2005).
Hiraki Sawa’s works are included in many important public collections internationally, including the Arts Council Collection, London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, CAB, Burgos, Spain, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, National Museum of Art, Osaka, Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taiwan, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Aichi, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel, and the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.