Taro Shinoda

What I can do with children and the sun

September 7 - October 12, 2019

Opening Saturday, September 7, 6-9pm

galerie frank elbaz, Paris

Taro Shinoda, What I can do with children and the sun, installation view,
galerie frank elbaz, Paris, 2019
Photos: Claire Dorn

galerie frank elbaz is pleased to present What I can do with children and the sun, the first solo exhibition in Paris by Tokyo-based artist Taro Shinoda. The exhibition features a series of blueprint works, depicting the movement of the sun on photosensitive paper, on top of which the artist places sand and rocks, exposing them to sunlight and sound vibrations. Additionally, a series of acrylic paintings that are made in collaboration with other individuals is on view. Challenging Shinoda’s own aesthetics, these works demonstrate his metacognitive artistic approach toward natural wonder. It is not about what he knows but it is always about what, why and how he thinks.

The modern education system was created about 150 years ago during the Industrial Revolution. It gave people academic opportunities that were once only available to the aristocracy. But, at the same time, education became a tool to standardize knowledge, imposing its values on society at large. The current system continues to produce professionals, experts and scholars, giving them college degrees, in other words, licenses to get a job. As a result, advanced knowledge is divided into categories, making it difficult to become a polymath, the highest form of intellectual existence. 

Taro Shinoda is a self-taught artist, who emerged outside of the conventional art education system. Shinoda studied Japanese landscape gardening before deciding to pursue a career in art, making his debut in 1995 with Milk, a kinetic sculpture installation, which recreated the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. Since then, he has been exploring the myth and science behind Japanese garden landscape design, an art form that focuses on the relationship between life on earth and the universe. Shinoda also continues to study, particularly the work of Mirei Shigemori, a prominent Japanese garden architect, considered to be one of the foremost historians and designers of Japanese gardens in the modern period. In the past decade, the artist created works in a wide range of media: ink drawings on paper of imaginary garden landscapes, a large-scale kinetic sculpture equipped with a jet engine called God Hand, a mobile sculpture that mimics Engawa (a viewing platform, which is an essential element of Japanese architecture connecting indoors and outdoors), and a series of filmed moon movements captured with a hand-built telescope entitled Lunar Reflexion Transmission Technique. The works all have a different look, but they consistently reveal the artist’s deep interest in astronomy and physics. 

Shinoda profoundly admires the great polymath Richard Buckminster Fuller, who described our planet as “spaceship earth”. He has adopted Fuller’s philosophy, voluntarily becoming a passenger on this spaceship. Shinoda continues to present new models, hoping to contribute to navigating the ship to a better destination. 

— Kaz Oshiro

Taro Shinoda was born in 1964 and lives and works in Tokyo. His landscape gardening studies background informs his visual practice, with his large-scale pieces suggesting a new kind of relationship between humans and nature, based upon an understanding that sees everything in the universe, including the cosmos itself, as an evolving form of nature coexisting with human endeavor In recent years, by pondering the relationship between humans and the contemporary urban landscape or our everyday settings with their reliance on advanced technological elements, he has been deepening his insight into the concept of ‘nature’ as an abstraction that includes lifestyle, society and culture within its scope. 

His solo exhibitions include The Sun and Mt. Fuji and Steve Reich, Misa Shin Gallery, Tokyo ; Homo sapiens sapiens, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo ; Lunar Reflexions, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston ; REDCAT, Los Angeles ; God Hand, Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art. Shinoda has also participated in numerous international biennales and group exhibitions: Garden of Earthly Delights, Gropius Bau, Berlin ; Sydney Biennale ; Sharjah Biennale ; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo ; Istanbul Biennale ; Busan Biennale ; Yokohama Triennale.