Mingei: Are You Here? Is the current exhibition at Pace London, open till January 18th. Situated in trendy Soho (Lexington Street) this gallery space is on the first floor, you have to be buzzed into the building (into a slightly run down stairwell), and follow the signs. This type of space I find hard to negotiate. It feels intimidating, from the access, to the security guard standing sentry in the echoey space, to the helpful when asked but really uninterested in my presence gallery worker. Who is the exhibition for? Who would go there? It seems like a space for people in the know. It isn’t a place I would normally go, but pleased I did, having no knowledge of Mingei, I found the exhibition interesting and enlightening, as well as aesthetically gorgeous.
A bit of background:
THE MEANING OF “MINGEI”
The word mingei, meaning art of the people, was coined by a revered Japanese philosopher named Sōetsu Yanagi. As a young man living in Korea in the early 1920s, he was taken with the timeless beauty of Yi dynasty (1392-1910) pottery—a simple, rustic type made in numberless quantities over the centuries. Used for everything from tea cups to kimchi jars, the pottery was everywhere and taken for granted.
(Quote from https://www.mingei.org/about/history-of-mingei/)br />
The exhibition places a range of work to put forward the discussion of the craft movement Mingei, developed in the 1920-30’s. It has reference to the arts and crafts movement, Art Deco, constructivism, minimalism. It is about functionality and form. You can see the blend of Eastern and Western art and design practises. The exhibition for me raises the question of the functionality of art, how form and function blend, usefulness of objects. I was unaware that I didn’t consider Japanese art to be influenced by Western art, but I am very aware of a range of famous Western Artists being influenced by Japanese, one if those thoughts that didn’t really cross my mind but makes me happy that there is this exchange between different Arts and Crafts and Folk Arts movements.
If you are interested in Arts and Crafts, Folk Art, Japanese influences, or just want to see a little exhibition that is a bit different, I would highly recommend it, just don’t get intimidated by the space.
Images taken with permission by gallery and for educational use only.