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Isamu Noguchi
Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Isamu Noguchi, ''Young Mountain,'' 1970, Aji granite, 13 3/8 x 17 5/8 x 13 1/4''.

 

Continuing through July 21, 2013

 

It’s a rare treat to see works by the late Japanese-American sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) installed in a traditional Japanese garden, and  that’s exactly the scenario the Portland Japanese Garden has served up with the thoughtful and elegant exhibition, "Isamu Noguchi:  We Are the Landscape of All We Know." As part of an ongoing series highlighting cultural cross-pollination, co-curators Diane Durston and Matthew Kirsch arranged for 22 sculptures to be loaned from the Isamu Noguchi Foundation in New York.  Seventeen sculptures are displayed inside the Garden’s main pavilion, while five are outside nestled within the pristine landscaping.  

 

In works such as "Stone of Spiritual Understanding" (1958) and "Garden Elements" (1962), Noguchi simulates the textures of natural stone with bronze.  "Locked Hill" (1970) is carefully fitted together from four pieces of Aji granite. With its shimmery, pocked surface and hollowed-out interior, it is held together only by its ingenious design and by gravity itself. Works such as the galvanized-steel "Cloud Mountain" (1982-83) and "Spirit" (1952-62) take a more geometric tack, with clean lines that read, respectively, as biomorphic and calligraphic. Throughout the exhibition, Noguchi’s singular integration of Japanese traditions and Western modernism shines through with intelligence and vigor.


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