azuma makoto debuts fungi sculptures with early botanical works at chamber
(above) botanical sculpture ‘yamagata polypore x gold’, 2016 | FRP, gold | 20 7/8 x 20 7/8 x 5 15/16 in
all images by shiinoke shunsuke, courtesy of chamber 

 

 

 

azuma makoto
chamber, new york
now through april 30, 2016

 

 

for its fifth capsule exhibition, chamber presents japanese botanical artist azuma makoto, debuting a new series of sculptures alongside a decade of iconic works. the solo show, curated by artist andrew zuckerman, demonstrates makoto’s relationship with nature through botanical artworks and installations that use living flowers and plants. ‘artists in the modern age interpret our constantly evolving relationship to nature in works that undeniably express the now,’ makoto says. ‘the pieces in this collection speak to the theme of human-nature, and reflect a series of man-made interventions in materials, forms, and principles from the natural world. this intersection of man and nature — which he is both a part of and separate from — combines to generate new beauty.’

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botanical sculpture ‘tokyo polypore x platinum’, 2016 | FRP, platinum  | 19 11/16 x 15 3/4 x 24 in

 

 

 

alongside select works that offer a look into his practice, makoto debuts his botanical ‘polypore’ sculptures. each of the six pieces comprise shelf-like fungi sourced from old trees, foraged from different parts of japan — tokyo, chiba, gunma, yamanashi, gifu and yamagata. disembodied from their trunks, these raw natural resources have been combined with molten gold, platinum and copper, forming a hardened shell around the wooden shapes. ‘I’ve been struck by makoto’s ability to transform well-tread materials and forms into something utterly new since the first time I encountered his work,’ says zuckerman. ‘since he chooses elements from the natural world as his medium, he creates the effect of actually suffusing nature with new life.’

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botanical sculpture ‘yamanashi polypore x copper’, 2016 | copper, FRP | 22 7/16 x 22 7/16 x 16 9/16 in

 

 

 

also exhibited are photographs from makoto’s ‘exobiotanica’ project, previously featured by designboom here. together with JP aerospace, the artist launched a white pine bonsai — and an arrangement of orchids, hydrangeas, lilies and irises — into the stratosphere. taking flight from black rock desert in nevada, the mission was accompanied by a sequence of high-resolution photos, which capture the ‘life and death’ of the plant with the edge of earth as its backdrop.

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botanical sculpture ‘gifu polypore x platinum’, 2016 | FRP, platinum | 7 1/16 x 3 1/8 x 4 3/4 in

 

 

 

additionally, makoto’s crystal seedcases and botanical objects are a presented as part of the exhibition. from the artist’s series of industrial products covered in astroturf, zuckerman has chosen a sofa, table and bicycle. the effect of moss-camouflaged objects playfully allows nature to infiltrate our lives. makoto’s crystal seedcase series are glass containers in the form of an amaryllis, a sunflower, a soybean, and an avocado, each of which encapsulate their corresponding seeds. for the artist, these repositories are considered to be life-saving first aid kits, with which we will regenerate food and plant life in a post-apocalyptic world.

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botanical sculpture ‘gunma polypore x copper’, 2016 | copper, FRP | 7 1/2 x 5 1/8 x 3 15/16 in

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botanical sculpture ‘chiba polypore x gold’, 2016 | FRP, gold  | 12 5/8 x 5 15/16 x 7 7/8 in

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botanical sofa, 2012; botanical table, 2012 | artificial turf, polystyrene foam
sofa: 70 7/8 x 35 7/16 x 31 ½ in; table: 39 3/8 x 23 5/8 x 13 ¾ in

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detail of ‘botanical sofa’

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botanical bicycle, 2012 | artificial turf, real bicycle | 63 x 14 9/16 x 39 3/9 in

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gear detail of ‘botanical bicycle’

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handlebar detail of ‘botanical bicycle’ 

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crystal seed case ‘avocado’, 2006 | crystal glass | 7 1/16 x 3 1/8 x 3 1/8 in | limited edition of 50

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crystal seed case ‘sunflower’, 2006 | crystal glass | 3 15/16 x 1 9/16 x 2 in | limited edition of 50

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crystal seed case ‘soybean’, 2006 | crystal glass | 5 15/16 x 2 3/8 x 2 in | limited edition of 50

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documentation from the ‘exobiotanica’ project 

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an image from the ‘exobiotanica’ project shows a botanical arrangement in space