Exhibits worth exploring: “Graphite” and “Timeless Beauty”

Rarely-used materials and a Japanese perspective on beauty are the focus of new exhibits currently at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

“Timeless Beauty” is a celebration of beautiful women in Japanese art, and “Graphite” explores the innovative ways in which artists are using the graphite medium.

“Timeless Beauty,” which opened Jan. 11, features a Japanese genre of art called Bijinga.

The collection offers a chance to see how masters of Bijinga portrayed beauty spanning over several centuries.

The most recent of the featured prints dates back to the 20th century.

“Timeless Beauty” invites viewers to think about how attractive feminine qualities have changed over time in Japanese culture. John Teramoto, IMA curator of Asian art, said contemplation of beauty over time was a key goal in the exhibit.

“I wanted people to decide for themselves if things have changed,” he said, “but more importantly, what has stayed the same.”

Most pieces in the collection are in flawless condition, but there are also damaged prints in the exhibit.

While time may not have been kind to these pieces, Teramoto said, “When you look through the damage, you can still see the beauty that remains.”

“Graphite” also holds its own as an exceptional exhibit.

According to the IMA’s website, “Graphite” is the first exhibition of its kind in a major museum.

Never before has an exhibit been solely dedicated to showing the innovative and diverse uses of graphite.

The exhibit contains not only large-scale, seemingly photographic drawings but also sculptures made of  graphite.

“It was my goal to show a very broad range of what graphite is and what it can do,” said Sarah Green, the exhibit’s curator.

The artists displayed have found novel ways to use graphite to portray abstract concepts.

The implications of choosing graphite are evident in pieces by Adam McEwen, who used the mineral to create sculptures of various common objects like a water fountain and hanging light fixtures.

Green describes McEwen’s approach of using graphite—a blackbody absorber—to create a sculpture of an everyday object that emits light as “strange and unsettling.”

“Graphite” will close at the IMA on April 7, and those interested in seeing “Timeless Beauty” must do so before May 5.

The artwork on display is all about the  contemplation of  beauty and, as Teramoto said, “Anything beautiful is worth seeing.”

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