Chiharu Shiota - INTERSECT: Online Auction Hong Kong Thursday, September 16, 2021 | Phillips
  • Catalogue Essay

    “White yarn is pure — in Japan the color is connected to death, it is a blank space, it is timeless.” —— Chiharu Shiota  

    The artist with her work at her Where are we going? exhibition, Le Bon Marché, Paris, 2017


    Born in Osaka, Japan but based in Berlin, Germany, Chiharu Shiota is an internationally acclaimed artist best known for her iconic, large-scale installations. Inspired by the rise of performance art movements across the world during the 1970s, Shiota left Japan to study at the Canberra School of Art in Australia, and then went on to further her study under critically acclaimed performance artists such as Marina Abramovic and Rebecca Horn in Germany. Shiota’s work is also aligned with that of Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse through their shared exploration of themes such as anxiety, oblivion, and memory.


    Art critic Susan Acret writes that “many of the objects found in Shiota’s installations stand in for human life and its desires and dreams”i. In works such as State of Being (Book), Chiharu Shiota uses white yarn to weave together a narrative isolated in its own dimensions, recording her own dreams and ideas through composing a three dimensional thread painting in the air. While most of her earlier works predominantly utilize black threads symbolizing the infinite universe beyond; and red threads representing blood lines and connections between individuals; the current work employs white threads, which epitomize the idea of purity, as well as adding another layer of depth through its emblematic connection to eternity and death. Seemingly mundane objects such as books and shoes are placed at the center of Shiota’s intricate web of chaos and tension, caught in the middle of a metal box, as if suspended in time, articulating sentiments of nostalgia towards familiar objects. Innumerable lines of thread densely warp around the central object, creating strong silhouettes with light seeping through the cracks of shadows. The structural composition of the work distances the viewer from the object, creating a complicated power dynamic between the observer and the observed the work of art and the viewer. Each thread builds towards a cohesive picture that is larger than itself, giving life and rhythm to previously empty vacuums of space. 


    To Shiota, these everyday objects act as an antithesis of time, holding the memories and presence of their previous owners. She believes “by creating webs, I tend to wrap individual memories and shine a light on human relationships”ii. Thus, threads act as an instrument to reify these seemingly invisible connections into tangible forms. The State of Being series of works thus acts as a commentary and exploration into human existence and the interconnectedness of life and death. In a similar fashion, Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang also uses the motif of thread to signify the unspoken bonds and tease out the more subtle connections between his subject matters. 



    Zhang Xiaogang, Family Portrait No.13, 1998, sold at Phillips Hong Kong for HK$10,535,000, June 2021


    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. 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.



    i Susan Acret, ‘The Primacy of Matter Chiharu Shiota’, ArtAsiaPacific, July/August 2016, online

    ii Chiharu Shiota, as quoted in ‘Interview:Chiharu Shiota’ Dreamideamachine ART VIEW, 11 April 2017, online

      • signed 'Chiharu Shiota' on the reverse

      • metal frame, white thread and old books

      • 25 x 25 x 25 cm. (9 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 9 7/8 in.)

      • Executed in 2017.

    • Provenance

      Der-Horng Art Gallery, Taiwan
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


State of Being (Books)

signed 'Chiharu Shiota' on the reverse
metal frame, white thread and old books
25 x 25 x 25 cm. (9 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 9 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

HK$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for HK$945,000

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INTERSECT: Online Auction

Online Auction 16 - 23 September 2021