14
Aug
09

Notes from a Conversation with Mari Funaki. Exhibition: ‘Mari Funaki, Works 1992-2009′ at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Exhibition dates: 27th June – 18th October, 2009

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Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 1' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

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Mari Funaki
‘Bracelet 1′ from Space between’
heat-coloured mild steel
2005-06

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Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 2' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

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Mari Funaki
‘Bracelet 2′ from Space between’
heat-coloured mild steel
2005-06

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“Mari Funaki is one of Australia’s leading jewellers. This exhibition celebrates her considerable achievements between 1992 and the present day. Her first major show in a state gallery, it includes nearly fifty works and will be the first time Perth audiences have seen her work in such depth. Many of these are new works produced especially for this show.

The exhibition will focus on rings, containers and bracelets. These forms have been the core of her practice, the foundation of her intricate material experimentations. Her sheer intensity of focus has seen her hone these forms into objects of extreme power and beauty. Funaki’s is no simple beauty, however. It is sharp, complicated. There is always a sense of danger in her work, as the spindly legs of her insect-like containers support unlikely, unwieldy torsos, and as her rings and bracelets cultivate miniature monoliths that play with scale and weight in fascinating ways.

This exhibition will frame these unique objects in such a way as to acknowledge Funaki’s ability to work with space and matter to form entrancing works that adorn the imagination in the same they adorn the body.”

Text from the Art Gallery of Western Australia website

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Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 3' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

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Mari Funaki
‘Bracelet 3′ from ‘Space between’
heat-coloured mild steel
2005-06

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Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 4' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

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Mari Funaki
‘Bracelet 4′ from ‘Space between’
heat-coloured mild steel
2005-06

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Notes from a Conversation with Mari Funaki, July 2006

Mari Funaki’s initial response comes from the environment – the response is part random, part constructed idea.

Funaki likes the ‘animated’ response from the viewer – allowing them to make their own associations with the work and their own meaning. The making of the work doesn’t emerge out of nothing but through the development of ideas over a long period of time.

Mari starts with a flat drawing – this approach comes from an Eastern perspective in the history of art making i.e. screens, woodcuts and scrolls. Initially when starting with the idea Mari is mentally thinking in two dimensions – then drawing out onto paper in two dimensions the ideas.

When actually making the work Mari then starts working and thinking in three dimensions – starting with a base piece of metal and working physically and intuitively around the object, to form a construction that evidences her feelings about what she wants to create. She likes the aesthetic beauty but uneasy aspect of a dead insect for example (like the Louise Bourgeois ‘Maman‘ spider outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao).

Now collaborating with architect Nonda Kotsalidis, Mari is working to produce her sculptural objects on a larger scale, up to 6 metres high. She needs the objects to have an emotional and physical impact on the viewer – both beautiful and threatening at one and the same time. How will her objects translate to a larger scale? Very well I think.

Funaki likes the physical distortion of space – and she likes telling a story to the viewer. She is working on a building where the facade is really strongly geometric and then she is embedding an emotion into the front of the building – constructing a narrative – constructing an emotional response with the viewer and establishing a relationship with the building. Here she is working from photographs of the space, her own recognition and remembrance of that space. She is having to work physically in 3D from the beginning for the first time, but still uses drawings to sketch out her ideas.

Several of Funaki’s pieces in the Cecily and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award (2006) at the NGV Federation Square were inspired by the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Their photographs of factories and gasworks, specifically the facades of such buildings (see images below), were the jumping off point for the development of the objects (the bracelets). Funaki takes the front of these buildings, a 3D structure ‘in reality’ but pictorially imaged on a 2D plane, and then twists and distorts their structure back into a 3D environment. The facades move up and around, as though a body is twisting around its own axis, pirouetting around an invisible central spine.

Each piece is created and then the next one is created in relation to the previous, or to each other. Each individual piece has its own character and relation to each other. They are never variations of the same piece with small differences – each is a separate but fully (in)formed entity.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Bernd and Hiller Becher. 'Water Towers' 1980

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Bernd and Hiller Becher
‘Water Towers’
1980

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Bernd and Hiller Becher. 'Winding Towers' 1967

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Bernd and Hiller Becher
‘Winding Towers’
1967

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“Black. Sharp, shifting contours. Familiar and alien. Confident, expressive and agile, it is easy to take the existence of these works for granted – and it is hard enough to trace in one’s mind the physical evolution back through heat colouring, sandblasting, soldering, assembling and cutting, to unremarkable, thin sheets of mild steel – let alone comprehend their conception and resolution.

They inhabit space in a way that is difficult to describe – the edge between each object and the space that encloses it is shockingly sudden.

How can something human-made be so insanely artificial and natural at the same time? It must be no accident that I described them as articulate – ambiguous and wide ranging in the breadth of associations and allusions, they can tell you everything and nothing at the same time.”

Sally Marsland, 2006

Text from the Gallery Funaki website

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Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 5' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

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Mari Funaki
‘Bracelet 5′ from ‘Space between’
heat-coloured mild steel
2005-06

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Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 6' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

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Mari Funaki
‘Bracelet 6′ from ‘Space between’
heat-coloured mild steel
2005-06

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Art Gallery of Western Australia
Perth Cultural Centre
Perth WA 6000

Opening hours are 10am-5pm. Closed Tuesdays.

Art Gallery of Western Australia website

Gallery Funaki website

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3 Responses to “Notes from a Conversation with Mari Funaki. Exhibition: ‘Mari Funaki, Works 1992-2009′ at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth”



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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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