When I last interviewed artist Miya Ando, who’s art is inspired by traditional Japanese bladesmithing, I was able to get up close to her paintings – and what I saw surprised me. Her works are laced with tiny metallic crystals – invisible in photography – that sparkle in every color. I’ve seen the same crystals before: on the master-crafted Japanese blades at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arms and Armor hall. As I understand it (and I’ve done some bladesmithing myself) they’re evidence of steel that’s been especially hardened for cutting. They’re only visible in the right light, meaning her paintings – which range from murky to brightly reflective – are very sensitive to their surroundings.
For that reason, I can’t wait to step into her latest work – and first installation – Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban). It immerses you in four walls of her paintings, transforming the space into an almost panoramic super-minimalist landscape. Read on to learn about the Emptiness The Sky, currently on display at the 56th Venice Biennale, and its uniquely Japanese charred-wood exterior.
Top Image: Courtesy Miya Ando