Exhibitions01 06 2019 — 27 07 2019
FrontRoom: TAKASHI KOJIMA Point
In a certain way the combination of jewellery and Japan is quite unusual. For centuries people decorated themselves in many parts of the world with rings and bracelets, with earrings and necklaces, but those traditions were unknown in Japan. To enhance one's appearance or status in that country, completely different customs and artifacts came into being. For instance with kimonos - often a work of art in themselves (even though lacking any pockets) - and 'inro' could be tied to the strap around the waist: it were superbly embellished, often multilayered little boxes in which things like seals or medication could be carried; women could use equally beautifully finished combs and pins to enhance their hairstyle.
There is one aspect on which Japanese decorations and customary jewellery pieces coincide: they all display a sensibility for materials, finishes, detailing and age-old artisanal traditions. It was only halfway the nineteen's century, once the US had decided that Japan could no longer maintain its policy of isolation, that its inhabitants were confronted with new cultures and their practices (just as other peoples encountered theirs).
So the phenomenon 'contemporary jewellery' holds a special position in Japan. Next to their esteem for craftsmanship that was passed down over the centuries, an artist here has an unburdened freedom of approach. Such a sense of freedom also defines the career of Takashi Kojima: he originally trained as an architect - which still can be detected in his analytic, construction consciousness approach - but decided later on to dedicate himself to designing and making jewellery. He exhibited his pieces not only in his homeland, but also elsewhere in the world, such as at SOFA Chicago, in Korea, Denmark and Germany, and two years ago in the Netherlands at the Design Museum in Den Bosch.
Kojima looks both back - his mother even collects antique jewelley, so the past is almost literally close at hand - as at his own present-day society. He has been using precious stones in his pieces since 2005, because he feels they have been at the core of nearly all jewellery for many centuries, As a kind of counterpoint, his designs are based on a typical, contemporary phenomenon from Japan: the baroque culture of manga (cartoons) and anime (a word borrowed from the English 'animation'). Kojima's jewellery pieces seem to originate from those graphic novels, they appear to be some sort of versions of the frequently featured transformer-characters. And that is exactly what his work is capable of: they can merge into different functions. A piece is often composed of several parts which can be worn separately. Precisely that aspect is essential to Kojima: he makes his jewellery specifically to be worn. In that respect he is a chip off an age-old block: blurring the boundaries between fine and applied art, between superior craftsmanship and the daily handeling of an object, is essentially Japanese.
(© Galerie Rob Koudijs)