Art Talk

By Liew Kian Yap

The invisible realm and its boundary has been the main theme for Japanese artist Takashi Kuribayashi throughout his career.
In his latest work Resonance of Nature, Kuribayashi expresses the boundary that lies between Man and Nature through two contrasting worlds within the Hermès window space. Using both the horizontal and vertical axis, the artist presents the opposition caused by borderlines, as well as a four-dimensional universe that exists at the boundaries. This universe straddling natural and manmade; tropical and winter; the world above and underground is connected by a singular flash of lightning, recalling the majestic force of nature that is beyond human imagination and control. The Hermès product, with its own unique resonance of the poetic dialogue between nature and man, acts as a token that brings together the two worlds with grace and peace.
“I believe this world is constructed by opposing contrasts. The oppositions can be divided by borderlines that create boundaries. No matter how they are divided; vertically, horizontally; there lies a space – a four dimensional universe at
the boundaries. My window expresses the boundaries and the created space, and what goes on there. The strong memories of the opposite worlds, human and nature are separated by boundaries, but also connected and can relate to each other.”

Takashi Kuribayashi
Kuribayashi previously exhibited at the former Third Floor - Hermès art space during the inaugural Singapore Biennale 2006.
Resonance of Nature will be on display until March, 2017 at the Hermès store at 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers.

Born in 1968, Nagasaki, Japan
Lives and works in Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Takashi Kuribayashi often says, “The truth resides in places that are invisible. Once you are aware that there is a different world out of sight, you will be living in a different way.”

The invisible realm and its boundary has been the central theme throughout Kuribayashi’s career. He has been creating special installations that visualise things that cannot be seen in daily life, such as what lies behind the ceiling, floor, or seabed, so that he can reveal this invisible world.
The great East Japan earthquake of March 11, 2011 has seen Kuribayashi confront challenging issues on different levels of complexity: completely invisible radioactive contamination triggered by the tsunami and the resulting Fukushima nuclear accident, the boundaries of the restricted areas in the region, and the invasion of underground nuclear activities that the public have no way of confirming what actually happens.
While approaching the boundary of life on earth and of the time and space beyond death, Kuribayashi rediscovers the wisdom of our ancestors and cooperates and dialogues with the sages of our era. This is a challenge of the art of life for us. This is art that will be passed down to the future.

Resonance of Nature
Hermès Liat Towers, Singapore 2016
Mixed materials


A letter from Einstein
Vortex, Spiral Garden Aoyama, Japan, 2015
Flexible container bags
Glass and Wire, 7m x 7m x 6m

Confronting the invisible at a shrine of black ‘flexible containers’, Takashi Kuribayashi conceived this artwork after witnessing these bulk bags piled up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Despite containing radioactively contaminated soil with a half-life of over 30 years, the bags themselves only last three years. Kuribayashi’s shock at this, as well as the sheer volume of the materials, inspired him to reexamine humanity closely. A Letter from Einstein is the artist’s response to the question of what is visible and what is invisible, a constant theme in multiple religions since time immemorial.
The cuboid flexible containers oppress the viewer, perhaps evoking architecture that encompasses the sublime and the intangible, such as the Kaaba, the sacred Islamic site. Inside, something is hidden, like it has been blocked off with a black wall. We are gripped by the desire to see within and, by peeping from a place where the wall is open, discover a chandelier of glass words that emit light.
There are sentences from a letter, sent by Einstein to Roosevelt requesting permission to develop the atom bomb. But since it is mirror writing, viewers cannot read it clearly and must turn and ‘read’ the shadows.

Imaginarium / a Voyage of Big Ideas, 2015
Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at 8Q Singapore
Glass, Wire and Tree, 3m60cm x 3m90cm x 2m40cm

Artist Takashi Kuribayashi found a tree that had been chopped down to make way for redevelopment. To create this installation, he placed the cut-up sections of the tree trunk into glass boxes. The remaining glass boxes are filled with leaves and small plants that the artist found in Singapore, so that when viewed from a certain angle, the glass boxes collectively form the image of a whole tree.
The image of a tree contained within glass boxes is also a reference to how nature often exists in very controlled environments in cities such as Singapore. Over time, the sections of the tree trunk will decay, and in the process give life to new organisms and ecosystems, so that each glass box will hold a tiny new world of its own.

Wonderfruit, 2014
Five types of water plants, 30m x 15m

A floating world map made of water plants that inhabit a pond. Water plants grow over time, thus changing the shape of the map, reminding viewers to be conscious of human selfishness that leads to changes in modern and natural boundaries.

Principal office
Ichihara Art-Mix Triennale, 2014
works in old elementary school “Satomi-sho” (Chiba, Japan)
Mixed media, 8m x 5m x 2m20cm

An abandoned principal’s office is frozen to minus 30 ℃, to visually capture the invisible in the space.
Here, time is suspended in a moment that lasts for eternity.

Underground Sound of Rain
Threshold | Anbang Exhibition, 2013
A solo exhibition by Takashi Kuribayashi
Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (Bandung, Indonesia)
Leaf, Wire, 12m x 6m x 4m50cm

“An installation using about 4,000 wild Indonesian 4000 leaves. This work features the theme of rain, and represents the feelings of the Japanese for rain after March 11, 2011. Leaves that stored the green colour dried over time, and created a different landscape.”
Takashi Kuribayashi
“Kuribayashi sewed thousands of leaves he picked up from the garden, and hung them from the ceilings. The intertwining leaves form a draping overlay that reminds us of a green-brown colour fabric with undulating contours – visually, this creates a dynamic effect. It is akin to leaves that fell onto the surfaces of a hill, only to be pulled back simultaneously by a strong magnetic force from the sky, the leaves draping as they float across the exhibition space. The range of nylon fabrics that bind the leaves presents themselves as beaming white vertical lines that drop from the ceilings of the gallery walls.
In many of his works, the viewers’ interaction within the exhibition space is an important aim to be achieved. Installation is used simply to ignite various bodily and gestural responses hoped to occur unexpectedly. To enjoy the work for instance, viewers must walk in and gaze above them in order to view the bottom of these hovering leaves – imagine that you are a worm or an ant crawling on the surface of the land, slipping underneath the leaves to run away from the threat of predators. he also creates a number of holes so that viewers can put their heads or half of the bodies through them, as if emerging from the surface, and immerse themselves in the view of the sea of leaves (imagine yourself as a dormouse coming
out of your nest to enjoy fresh air and the warm rays of the sun after long periods of hibernation).”
Agung Hujatnikajennong, Exhibition Curator
Wasser Wände (Water Wall)
Sky Over My Head, 2012
Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto (Kumamoto, Japan)
Printed on the plastic bottle material, 4m50cm x 5m x 90cm

“There are dual spaces that necessarily exist in the world in which we live. The sea in opposition to the land, the land in opposition to the sky, inside and outside, reality and unreality, nature and non-nature, etc.We human beings live in a position that straddles such dual worlds.
How much space can be handled by an individual human being? It is not very wide. We have invented tools and developed them to create civilization, but I believe we have become intoxicated with technology, puffed up with success, and gone too far. I investigated how much space can be handled by one person with his own body by standing on top of a 4000-meter mountain in the Himalayas on March 10, 2011 and then by diving under water.We should stop and think about the place where we live.”
Takashi Kuribayashi

Kleine See (Small Pond)
National Museum of Singapore (Singapore), 2007
WET-SUIT MATERIAL, Artificial flower, Water, Mixed media
10m x 7m x 6.8m


A small pond is suspended in mid-air in what is usually an atrium at the entrance of the museum. Visitors enter the museumas though entering the pond before proceeding to view the exhibition.
The work is structured so that the museum seems to exist inside the pond. This was the first time that the artist used artificial plants exclusively. Visitors who had encountered the artist’s previous installations featuring real plants, are convinced that these, too, are real, until the installation challenges their assumptions.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely the current opinions of the author and should not be construed to reflect the opinions, policies or positions of any entity other than the author's.