Chiharu Shiota

Galerie Templon | Paris
30 rue Beaubourg
May 20, 2017–July 22, 2017

Chiharu Shiota, Destination, 2017, wool thread, metal, dimensions variable.

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota has likened her artistic practice with yarn to that of a calligrapher. It’s a fitting parallel: Shiota trained in painting before gravitating toward three-dimensionality. She studied in Braunschweig, Germany, under Marina Abramović, and later in Berlin, where she lives today. Her immersive environments and intricately wrought objects, enigmatic yet deeply physical, are the results of painstaking labor. Shiota’s current exhibition, consisting almost entirely of works produced this year, occupies the main gallery and its annex. Destination, 2017, is a site-specific, room-engulfing labyrinth that has the sprawl of an uncontrollable fungus, a haywire cat’s cradle, or a webbed cathedral in red. Like her installation The Key in the Hand, 2015—made from second-hand keys ensnarled in massive amounts of scarlet string for the Japan pavilion at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale—the work engages directly with the volume of its surroundings.

Shiota’s canvases, such as Endless Line I–III, a triptych, or her five-part work Silent Explosion I–V (both 2017), flatten the effect of her threaded tangles—their crosshatch patterns evoke cells enlarged under a microscope. But even those surfaces refuse to stay completely planar: The threads claw past the rectangle of the canvas onto the sides. Shiota’s other sculptures tangle quotidian items (a child’s dress, a telescope, a chair) without addressing the stories behind them. Around these anonymous possessions, the networks of yarn stand in for muddled memories that no one will ever unfurl.

— Sarah Moroz