Chiharu Shiota - 24/7: Online Auction Hong Kong Tuesday, July 20, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    “I really like yarn as a material. It is soft and I use it like a mirror of my feelings. So when I have a bad feeling, it’s tangled. Yarn has tension like a human relationship. A relationship might be tight but it can be tangled and is connected by feeling. That’s why I use yarn and string in my work.” —— Chiharu Shiota

    Exploring fundamental themes such as life, death, emotions and memories, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota's intricate, immersive installations have won her international acclaim. Her work delves into the depths of human existence through the use of thread, which often also incorporate various found objects, tangled within. Shiota’s works are poignant in representing personal narratives, articulating complex feelings of longing and loss.


    Using predominantly black, red, or white monochromatic colour schemes in her work, Shiota focusses the viewer's attention on the central object, enabling them to tune into their emotional response to the work without any distractions. These colours represent life, body, and human relationships (red); the universe and cosmos (black); and a timeless sense of blankness and purity (white). Black threads, such as in the present work, represent the dark web of the cosmos, with each object suspended within, floating like shining stars.



    The artist and her work, The Web of Time, 2020

    "Threads allow me to explore space, piling up layer after layer creates a surface like the night sky which gradually expands into the universe." —— Chiharu Shiota

    Shiota's large scale, site-specific installations interact with space and the body, often creating passages or caves to walk through, demanding both a physical and emotional engagement from the viewer. For Shiota, each line of thread is like a line in a painting, dancing through space: "with the thread I am drawing in the air, in an unlimited space. With the material I can create new spaces. They might be deconstructed after the exhibition, but they will live in the memory of the visitors forever"i.


    In the present work, the yarn is webbed around a pair of shoes within a cube structure, protecting it within its own little universe, as if suspending it within a specific time and space. Many of the objects found in Shiota's installations — dresses, suitcases, keys, shoes — stand in for individual human memory, their life, desires, and dreams. Countless lines of thread trace around these objects, alluding to a complex social web of human connections. Each layer of thread surrounds the central found object with a protective tenderness, as if preserving the story and memories associated within, making them more tangible: "I can see people through these objects. I can recognise who they are or who they were through the objects they have used or the books they have read. People move, travel, change, but they leave something on everything they touch and use: clothes, shoes, furniture, houses, even after they have gone away" ii. Each viewer is invited to consider the life of an object and its power to stimulate the imagination and profound emotional reactions.


    "No one is there now but someone was there previously. This is the theme of my work. Someone is here and nobody is here. And traces of the person who previously owned and used these objects is present." —— Chiharu Shiota

    In 2014, the artist created a large-scale installation at the Smithsonian Institute at Washington D.C. with thousands of pairs of worn shoes each accompanied by a note detailing memories associated with the particular item, creating a deeply personal and poetic space that represents lost individuals and past moments. 


    Installation view of Over the Continents, 2014, at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA, photos courtesy of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution


    Currently based in Berlin, Chiharu Shiota won international acclaim after her representation of Japan at the 2015 Venice Biennale. The artist's major retrospective, The Soul Trembles, is currently ongoing at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum till August 2021. This is the largest exhibition to date, with more than one hundred multidisciplinary works on display. It has already travelled to the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2019), the Busan Museum of Art (2019-2020), and will continue to the Gallery of Modern Art in Australia, and the Museum MACAN, Indonesia. The artist is represented by Gallery Templon, König Gallery, and Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea.



     Chiharu Shiota speaking about her installation, The Key in the Hand, made for the 2015 Venice Biennale Japanese Pavilion



    i TF Chan, ‘At home with artist Chiharu Shiota’, Wallpaper, 1 June 2020, online

    ii Brittney, ‘Stitching the sublime: Chiharu Shiota’s threads of time – interview’, Art Radar Journal, 24 July 2015, online

    • Provenance

      Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea, Milan
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


State of Being (Children's Shoes)

signed 'Chiharu Shiota' on the reverse
metal frame, old children's shoes and black thread
30.4 x 30 x 30 cm. (11 7/8 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2012, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and issued by Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea.

Full Cataloguing

HK$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for HK$504,000

Contact Specialist

Hin Hin Wong
Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2013
[email protected]

24/7: Online Auction

Online Auction 21 - 30 July 2021