A New Layer exhibition @ Östasiatiska

A New Layer
Exhibition at Östasiatiska, the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm

Dates: November 12 2014 to February 8 2015
Exhibitors: Matti Klenell, Stina Löfgren, Carina Seth Andersson, TAF Arkitektkontor through Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom.
Exhibition Architects: TAF Arkitektkontor
Graphic Design: Stina Löfgren
Photographer objects: Joakim Bergström
Photographer portrait: Fredrik Sandin Carlson

The exhibition A New Layer shows contemporary objects made with an ancient technique. Lacquer has been used in East Asia for over 7000 years and encompasses a variety of techniques and applications. The title A New Layer refers to how the lacquer is applied in several layers until the desired surface sheen occurs.

Historically, China and Japan have been the prime regions for the development of the lacquer art form. Artisans have not only mastered a single method, but developed a variety of ways in which the coating is used, both as a functional and a decorative material. Despite the long history of craftsmanship, it is not tied to tradition but is constantly changing.
Taiwan is a geographical and cultural crossroads for China and Japan but also a region with influences from South East Asia and Polynesia. This variegated culture is visible in Taiwan’s own craft traditions and has significantly colored the material that appears in A New Layer.

The project was initiated by the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI) when they in 2012 invited the Swedish designers Gabriella Gustafson Matti Klenell, Stina Löfgren, Carina Seth Andersson and Mattias Ståhlbom to work and explore the world of lacquer techniques. Along with artisans on the island, they have studied the possibilities within the art form and created works adapted to their own expression.
For the five participants the project involved a total of 22 visits crisscrossing the country and countless meetings with people linked to small-scale production in a variety of materials. The exhibition therefore shows a broad palette of materials such as ceramics, wood, metal, wicker bamboo, fabric, pearl and stone, all of it accompanied by lacquer work applied on the objects in various ways.
The approximately 35 pieces shown are all prototypes or unique work designed specifically for the project. They range from the invaluable exclusive to the everyday simple and is carried out in collaboration with a score of artisans selected by NTCRI.

The exhibition shows a colorful clash between the Scandinavian and the Asian resulting in a multi-faceted, playful and very sprawling collection of works from some of Sweden’s most prominent designers. The experimental and investigative process on site in Taiwan has created conditions that go beyond their mundane framework. The discovery of an ancient technique in combination with new materials and an Asian context resulted in an unusually free spirited collection and the project has in many ways come to influence the participant’s other work during the two and half years that it lasted.

The host institution NTCRI was founded in its current form in 1999, but has roots back to the 1950’s. It is an organization that aims to support Taiwanese design, decorative arts and crafts. Its center is located in Caotun Township, Nantau. Part of their mission is to engage in collaborative projects with foreign individuals and organizations. Past collaborations include projects with Nendo, Konstantin Grcic and the Design Academy Eindhoven. Between 2008 and 2011 NTCRI were also responsible for the exhibition project Yii Project, which was cured by Gijs Bakker and among other venues, was shown at the Salone del Mobile in Milan and Art Basel Miami.

The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm is part of a government agency with the official name National Museums of World Culture. The organization includes also the Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Mediterranean Culture in Stockholm as well as the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. Temporary exhibitions are also conducted in The Cavern at Skeppsholmen in Stockholm.
The museum’s mission is to demonstrate and bring to the world’s cultures, especially cultures originating outside Sweden. They also strive to make their collections available to the public, conduct educational activities and promote public debate within the field of world culture.

The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities permanent collection represent historical works from China, Japan, Korea, India and South Asia.

The project A New Layer was also carried out with support from The Swedish Arts Grants Committee.