Yasue Maetake: Three-Legged IdolsDecember 4th, 2023 - January 6th, 2024
Nina Johnson is pleased to announce Three-Legged Idols, a solo exhibition of new mixed-media sculptures by New York-based artist Yasue Maetake, opening December 4th in the Exhibition Library. The exhibition highlights Maetake’s skillful technique of melding various materials including animal bones, seashells, coral, resin, metal, and glass to create abstract shapes that evoke both ancient archetypal elements and futuristic aesthetics.
With Three-Legged Idols, the artist explores the functional art and fundamental purpose of a tripod—from its use in ancient civilization as decorative elements and trophies, to its evolution into modern-day tools such as telescopes and stationary cameras. Avoiding material consistency and instead foregrounding an armature form, the exhibition ventures into unexplored artistic territory with Maetake delving deeper than ever before into the bounds of physical and technical intricacies. By emphasizing the structure’s stance, Maetake portrays a liminal space—the purgatory between humanity’s sedentary lifestyle and physical connection with Earth—and its simultaneous yearning for the celestial and a speculative future.
Incorporating an animistic viewpoint, the works in Three-Legged Idols manifest as gracefully designed, abstract pieces drawing upon myths, the natural world, human experiences, and traditional Japanese aesthetics and traditions. The work titles, which are in both English and Japanese, verbally align with the artist’s visual and linguistic associations inspired by the pieces.
For the largest work in the show, Primordial Soup—a 5-foot tall stone-like formation composed of animal bones,fossils, sea glass, and quartz—the artist pulls from her deepest memories to illustrate primordial life forms converging in a melted pond.
Another piece, 神楽 [kagura], expresses a figure of a body encircled by a snake-like form made of bent inlay wood. Unlike other pieces in the show, the tripod armature of this work retains the raw tree’s surface, gesturing to the assemblage of something rough in appearance.
Another piece titled 鍾乳洞[shōsnyūdō] is inspired by O-mikuji, a custom in Japanese ceremonial practice of using folded strips of paper that are tied to pine trees to create a shrine. The work is vertically emphasized, and uses aluminum to create the effect of gently tumbling ice floes along erect lines.
“In the Three-Legged Idols series, the three-legged stance serves as my motif to mark or pay homage to human spatial wisdom. I am inspired by the transformation of functionality and the construction of utilitarianism, craftsmanship, and the individual aesthetic into eventual art, and I am excited to explore this process in the Exhibition Library at Nina Johnson,” said Yasue Maetake.
Three Legged-Idols is on view through January 6th, 2024.