Canvas :: Tokujin Yoshioka’s Waterfall

October 17th 2011

The poet William Wordsworth once said: “Little we see in Nature that is ours.” I guess Wordsworth never met Japanese artist Tokujin Yoshioka, because this guy has owned Nature. I never thought I’d see what a man-made waterfall looks like, but as of this week I can officially cross that off my to-do list.

At Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation Yoshioka’s newest exhibit Waterfall is on display. I say “on display” in the ironic sense, because this installation has literally taken over the entire gallery space. In one of the pieces, Tornado, Yoshioka has taken about 500 000 specially made, white straws and created an installation designed to capture light and the essence of the storm’s movement.

Heaped together in random piles around the room, it feels and even looks like you’re walking through a freezer, a type of winter wonderland that is an indescribable feeling. As you walk through the narrow path laid out, the cracking of straws sounds under your shoes. I was in the gallery by myself and it could have been that I had floated into another world; the stillness, the overwhelming white of it all was absolutely incredible. I could have been the only person on earth.

Yoshioka has also included sculptural pieces made of optical glass. One of them, Waterfall, weighing 1.4 tonnes, is the heaviest piece of optical glass in the world. The glass’s top has been carved into ripples, like the surface of water. One of the best parts of the exhibit is that it’s hands-on. You’re allowed to touch the straws; dip your hand into the piles; throw them around a bit. Well, maybe not that last one (but, as I said, I was alone in the gallery). And all of the works play with lighting effects. Yoshioka has said that one of his aims is to make the scene look like clouds made out of water particles. He’s taking a fresh look at the nature we take for granted.

But Wordsworth can’t be all wrong. He also said “what we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.” In Tokujin’s work you can definitely fulfill this wish: you can see the impossible made possible.

What: Waterfall, by Tokujin Yoshioka

Where: Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. 16–20 Goodhope Street, Paddington

When: Until December 17th. Wednesday to Saturday 11am – 5pm.

How Much: Free


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