Chihiro Kabata and a Ball-Point Pen

This Sunday is the last day of the Chihiro Kabata show at the Art Front Gallery in Daikanyama. If you have not gone yet, I highly recommend it. (Also, it’s across the street from the Cordon Bleau cooking school which has a small cafe that I have yet to try.) I especially recommend it for people who want to see artwork that expresses beauty and originality. I promise that there are no rainbows, unicorns, or precocious children with doe eyes and abnormally large breasts. The artist herself will be there on Sunday. Warning! She might pretend she works there, and you will not know that it is really her.

After outing her as the artist, we had a long chat with her and she kindly answered my questions. Okay, most of the questions were mine.

Last year I saw her ink drawings on mirrors at the same gallery and I was blown away. I still prefer the work on mirrors, but it was interesting to see what direction she’s taking now. The drawings in one room look like orchids but are really multiple representations of the shadows cast by a rock at various times of the day. I admire how she turned a mundane subject into beautiful drawings. The presentation with the acrylic sheets and no frames is stunning, too. I wonder if these shadows resulted from playing with mirrors for such a long time. I forgot to ask her that. In other pieces, it was obvious that the mirrors remained but this time serving to reflect the drawing and to act as a three-dimensional circular frames on a two-dimensional drawing. She was obviously trying to go 3D and admitted it when asked.


The artwork in the window at street level is proof that she is edging into three-dimensional forms. This is a huge, spiral drawing. She drew on one long, continuous sheet of inkjet paper and then mounted it on a long, thin sheet of steel. The craftsmanship is amazing! No bubbles, no gaping where the two are joined. Even more amazing is that she takes it apart when shipping, because the steel and the paper do not have the same range of flexibility. Despite the handling during the countless hours of drawing and additional handling for shipping and installation, the paper is not torn or damaged. Why? It is a really strong inkjet paper that has some plastic in it. It is sturdy! Regardless of all the technical factors, the drawing itself is beautiful!

Version 2

Sorry for the poor quality of the photo but I just zoomed in on the one taken far away of the gallery window. Do you see the solid areas of colour? That was all done with a pen. Kabata scribbled for hours and hours. The paper became shiny with ink, and the black ink looks purple after a while. At first glance you might think that the metal is causing it to shine, but you can see the thin lines made by the pen if you look very carefully. The shading? Pointillism with a pen. The slick surface of the paper adds to the illusion and makes the drawing look like a printed reproduction of a drawing. It, however, is the real thing.

Tomorrow is your last chance for now. Will she be back again next year? I hope so.


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