Osamu Watanabe’s solo exhibition “Museum of Sweets
Have you ever read the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”? Before we even think about the story or the characters, we automatically think of a sweet cookie house made of gingerbread and sweets. Have you ever wished you could live in that house? It’s hard to define what makes us happy, but simply put, sweets brought us happiness when we were children, didn’t they?
Contemporary artist Osamu Watanabe brings this happiness through art in the form of sweets, and from July 31 to August 14, he will be holding his solo exhibition “Museum of Sweets” at the Odakyu Department Store in Shinjuku, the heart of Tokyo.
Osamu Watanabe was raised by his mother, a pastry chef, and because of this background, he has come to associate sweets with happiness from his childhood memories. If you take a glance at his creations, you might confuse his works of art with authentic desserts because of their realistic appearance. The secret behind the realistic looking cream is resin. In the process, he uses a piping bag to make the resin look like cream. He uses the faux cream to create various shapes such as animals, fish, historical statues and paintings from art history. In this exhibition, there were also homages to Rodin’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “The Thinker”. What is interesting about his works is the gap between the light and cheerful atmosphere coming from the decoration of sweets and the heavy atmosphere coming from art history. This cheerful contrast makes us giggle.
At the “Museum of Sweets” exhibition, the works were displayed in several sections. At the entrance, there were large works such as animals and long banquet tables, as well as flat works like paintings and three-dimensional works. Continuing down the corridor, we came across a section of works that paid homage not only to Western art history, but also to Japanese art history, including ukiyoe prints. We were also greeted by a huge scale homage work to Japanese art in the form of chocolates, candies and popcorn. Then, we continue to the ocean-themed corner, where the walls are decorated with lots of sea creatures. As Watanabe humorously put it in his work, taiyaki (sea bream pancakes) appeared along with the fishes. In addition to the works on display, there are also works on display in the photo zone. The curation seems to have been done with the audience in mind.
According to art historian Shuji Takashina, Watanabe created a new genre of contemporary art called “Faux Sweets Art,” which he describes as “the king of sweets. He points out that Watanabe’s work is tied to Japanese philosophy about the human senses. There is an old Japanese philosophy that says, “See the temperature of the bath water with your hands,” and there is also Japanese culture like “seeing the taste with your tongue. Traditional tea ceremonies and kaiseki cuisine, the traditional Japanese dinner course, are known to reflect this philosophy. Takashina’s assessment of Watanabe’s work closely parallels these. He may be trying to say that we can see the happiness through his works with our own eyes.
Works brought to you by Osamu Watanabe Feeling happiness while leaving a unique mark on the Japanese contemporary art scene has been internationally acclaimed. He has held exhibitions abroad in China, Turkey, Hong Hong Kong, and Indonesia. At the same time, his works are in the permanent collection of the Collection of Ohara Museum of Art, Kiyosu City Kasuga Art Museum, and the World Children’s Museum in Takasaki Okazaki. Despite his reputation, he held a solo exhibition, “Museum of Sweets,” at a department store in Tokyo. in a location that is easily accessible to those less familiar with contemporary art and the exhibition itself is curated from the audience’s point of view. A friendly way.
From this exhibition, Osamu Watanabe leaves a message for the audience
I think everyone has a happy memory associated with cookies and sweets. I hope that people who see my works will have happy memories and feelings. I would like to be an artist who can continue to create works that evoke such happy memories related to sweets. I hope that my work will become one of your happy memories.
For more information about the “Museum of Sweets” exhibition, please refer to the following link: http://www.odakyu-dept.co.jp/shinjuku/special/sweets/index.html
Article written by: Jeongeun Jo
Born in Korea, lives in Japan. One of the members of TRiCERA, graduated from the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. She is also active as an artist.