Obsession, Thy Name Is This Exhibit

Aluminum skulls encrusted with tiny flowers? Yes, please!

Okay, I really want to hate the Mitsui Memorial Museum (because see below) but they keep putting on shows like this.

The idea behind “Amazing Craftsmanship!” is to pair mad Meiji-era woodwork, metalcraft and even (who knew?) embroidery with contemporary artists whose mindbending skillz rival those of the obsessed artists past.

But don’t take my word for it – go see this thing. You will not be disappoint.

This lobster was made from umpty-kerbillion pieces of carved wood…

…and it all works, just like a real lobster. (If you want to see more of this guy’s work and his carvings in progress, check out Ryoho Otake’s Facebook page!) This beauty was paired with some equally jaw-dropping silver lobsters made in days of Meiji.

Cucumbers made of…ivory? This is just one of the many pieces by artist of yore (Meiji Era) Rokuzan Ando. Look at that leaf. It’s so thin, it’s translucent. The guy was that good.

Clay. Yes, clay. And time. Lots and lots of time. Eriko Inazaki’s porcelain work definitely puts her in the same league as the Meiji Era craftcrazies. (Photo thanks: Keiko Art International)

And this snake skeleton is made of metal. Haruo Mitsuta also makes insects. You can imagine.

Somehow my granny did not teach me how to embroider like THIS. Yes, this portrait is pure silk stitchery, and it has to be seen to be believed, because Shoryu’s portrait of a carpenter changes as you shift from right to left.

Fuyuki Maehara’s half-eaten sanma on a plate is actually carved from cherrywood. Yeah. I was ready to eat the rest too. (Photo thanks: Yokoi Fine Art)

You’ll never guess. Until you look at Shota Suzuki’s Facebook page and see him making it out of METAL.

I couldn’t include some of my other favorites here because I couldn’t find photos of them online, so if you can’t hop on a train and go see this RIGHT NOW, you’ll just have to take my word for it that the handbag that turns into a snake, the bucket made of carved toads, and the glow-in-the-dark embroidery were totally to die for.

This show is at the Mitsui Memorial Museum until December 3, 2017

Open: 10:00 – 17:00, closed Mondays

Admission: Adults ¥1300

*Ranty bit: So, I kind of understand why museums sometimes don’t allow patrons to take pictures of stuff in exhibitions – often there’s a thing in the art loan contracts that prohibit it (even though DUH they would get a boatload of free publicity when people post them all over the interwebs and say “go see this exhibit if you want to slay your friends with amazement and envy” but, whatever.) Not the museum’s fault. But the Mitsui Museum not only prohibits photo-taking, it forbids taking out your cellphone. WAT? Guards pounce at the first glimpse of a keypad, even if it’s obviously being used to take notes or look up something about the artist. Just thought I would warn you about this, so you can be spared a swift, authoritarian, Japanese knuckle-rapping.

When not being heinously reprimanded by security guards, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more