World renowned Japanese artist, Kosogawa Runa creates beautiful and delicate floral glass sculptures reflective of an aesthetic that transcends the temporality of life.
‘Kizuki’ is a beautiful Japanese word that stands for appreciating and reviving that which has been neglected. For Takayama City based artist Kosagawa Runa, her kizuki came at a difficult time in her life. After watching her loved ones suffer from health issues, Kosogawa realised the futility of holding onto the transient, and instead, shifted her focus to the more mundane workings of everyday life which added more meaning.
It was here that Kosogawa decided to condition and channelise her epiphany into creating beautiful pieces of floral glass art that symbolise the inner workings of thought.
“I began to feel that my thoughts seemed to match the language of flowers, and that is when I started to create pieces based on images of flowers,” says Kosogawa as she gives us some insight into her art. “Glass gives me a sense of transience, one that can truly mirror or reflect the imagery of flowers. I feel it is just the right material for representing the themes I have in mind,” she adds.
Since Kosagawa’s approach to art is motivated by her “observing the small things and events” of life that are more often than not, either taken for granted or never fully acknowledged. When she moved to Takayama she realised the importance of having roots – a sense of belonging and in doing so, her art form has undergone a big change. Her work no longer remains just a personal motif, but now extends to include the world as a whole by depicting issues that plague mankind, like war, climate change, etc.
“I have been focusing on the conflicts and contradictions in our societies and also on the importance of passing on stories of war and environmental problems to future generations.” She calls this new theme – ‘Enquiring about the Value of Our Lives’. For this, Kosagawa decided to work with black glass, its darkness mirroring the anxieties of the world. “I am reminded of an event when I was a child,” she goes on. “I did not know what colour to use to draw the sun. In books I had seen the sun depicted in orange, but the sun did not really look orange to me.”
Historically, glass art finds its origins in Egypt and Assyria. Made famous by Romans in the later centuries, glass art became more available in the twentieth century, as its techniques (glass bowling, hot sculpting, cold working) became more accessible. ‘Studio Glass Movement’ began to shape in the West by the 70s. As opposed to ceramic art which more often than not, defined by imperfections, glass art is required to be smooth and flawless. But Kosagawa decided to buck this particular stipulation when it came to her art form.
“I have chosen glass as a medium,” she says, “For my artistic expression because of its fragility and tendency to break. I use these imperfections in my work as a serendipitous occurrence.” Kosagawa goes on to say that “perfect beauty” as a concept does not have to necessarily bind the artist when working with glass. She believes this is reflective of the Japanese concept of being one with nature, rather than confronting and trying to break away from it.
What Kosagawa essentially does with her glass art is create sculptures that are reflective of thought, and aesthetically breathtaking. No two pieces are the same, and yet each is so skillfully created that one is left wondering at the artist’s imaginative genius. To which, Kosagawa says, “When I encounter something beyond my imagination, I have the feeling that the needle on the compass of my mind disappears.” Without a sense of direction to guide her, Kosagawa manages to find answers through her art; a process she believes has led her to where she is today – in the museums of the world!
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Okamura Kichiro