For his latest installation, “Vertical Emptiness,” Osaka-based artist Yasuaki Onishi turned the Kyoto Art Center into a beautiful ice-world forest like something out of Narnia. Tree branches are hung upside down from the ceiling, drizzled with strands of hot glue like spider silk. Onishi sprays the branches with liquid urea, which then crystallizes. The delicate structure that connects ceiling to floor appears shagged with silver-white ice, standing in stark relief in front of a large black panel of glue and graphite.
In a short, dreamy video about the exhibition, Onishi describes his design process, saying, “I don’t make elaborate pieces. The way I work is applying some treatment to existing forms.”
In his previous work, too, Onishi managed to use the simplest of materials to transform gallery spaces into fantastical, haunting dreamscapes. And "Vertical Emptiness" isn’t the first time Onishi has invested heavily in hot glue--in “Reverse of Volume,” a site-specific installation at the Rice Gallery in Houston, black glue strands suspended a diaphanous white sheet in mid-air. At the Kyoto Museum, the artist used black lights and fluorescent paint to create rave-y, space-age scenes.
Onishi is also currently participating in “Rokko Meets Art,” an outdoor arts festival on Mount Rokko near Kobe, Japan. It's an enticing prospect to imagine the meeting of his otherworldly, overturned indoor visions of nature and actual nature.