Arts / Galleries

Japanese Art is Having a Major Dallas Moment

How Instagram Led to a Summer Art Adventure

BY // 07.23.18

To quote the Vapor’s famous lyrics — “I think I may be turning Japanese.” I’ve been enchanted twice this month by works by Japanese artists.

In June, it was the amazing Takashi Murakami, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Then, I had a first in my life of art exploration. An image caught my eye on Instagram at @talleydunngallery.

Never had social media been a tool for capturing my art-minded attention. I was intrigued by the swirling forms of what looked like either sculptures or perhaps mobiles. The pieces, entitled Cotton Candy Tree, Duet and Trio had a decorative arts quality, collectively like a highly stylized chandelier.

The artist was Kana Harada. I decided a visit to the gallery was in order to learn more of her work.

I was lucky enough to catch the insightful Talley Dunn at her namesake gallery. She was preparing for some exciting upcoming late summer and early fall programs (I’ll be sure to fill you in as I learn more).

She brought me to the space between the two main galleries; that serves as a storage area, offices for her team and for temporary exhibitions from her large stable of artists. In that nook hung the pieces from Instagram that had drawn me in to the gallery.

FERN FREEMAN

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  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October
  • Cotton Club Deck - October

The sculptures were even more beautiful and compelling in person. The shadows being created on the stark white walls had me transfixed. I was reminded of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and wondered, would a world solely made of fanciful forms such as these actually not be half bad?

Both Harada and Murakami seem fascinated with flowers and use them in many of their motifs. This is true for many Japanese artists over the past centuries — Edo period porcelains being my favorites. Having never been to Japan, but familiar with the fact that it is known for its verdant landscapes, this makes complete sense.

The two artists, to me, also have an otherworldly element. Harada’s work in particular seems both fanciful and fantastical. In the case of her three hanging sculptures, I might describe them as a celestial garden. The exquisitely white structures, that lithely dance through the air, are painted with delicate flowers and patterns in vibrant pastels.

Born in Tokyo, Harada studied graphic design, Japanese fine art, and drawing at the Ochanomizu School of Fine Arts. She lives and has a studio in Dallas. Harada’s work has been seen at The Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, and The Old Jail Art Center.

There is definitely a lot to see out there this summer — which is often not the case in Dallas/Fort Worth. Perhaps I’ll bump into you wandering through a gallery very soon.

The Kana Harada installation is up until August 15. Talley Dunn Gallery is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm and by appointment.

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