Miho Dohi, buttai 23, 2013.
Miho Dohi, buttai 53, 2018.
Miho Dohi, buttai 57, 2019.
Miho Dohi, buttai 58, 2019.
Miho Dohi uses materials such as yarn, wire, paint, fabric, sheet metal, and tape to create lively, invitingly tactile sculptures she simply describes as buttai, or objects. Each work gradually coalesces from intricate layers of contrasting elements— hard and soft, linear and planar, bright and matte. The resulting constructions express idiosyncratic identities through rich, multifaceted surfaces. Every viewing angle reveals a dramatically distinct profile. This exhibition presents a cross-section of Dohi’s recent practice, showcasing her work’s signature balance of visual generosity and peculiar internal harmony. Dohi is based in Kanagawa, Japan; this will be the sculptor’s first exhibition in a U.S. institution.
Dohi’s nimble, exploratory approach is rooted in a close dialogue with her materials. Relationships of weight, mass, color, and texture between objects inform each action in the studio, even as her interventions alter these physical and formal dynamics. Dohi might build up a work in a particular direction until it loses its balance and tumbles to the floor as its center of gravity shifts.
These improvisational works culminate for Dohi in moments when “it seems to become clear what is inside and what is outside.” In these moments, says Dohi, the works “turn completely upside down, and all of a sudden, an object appears quite naturally out of that chaos. Once an object has completely collapsed, something that hadn’t existed in me becomes something that is there now.” Through this push and pull of order and disorder, artistic agency and the tendencies of materials, the creation of the buttai becomes a mutually-constructive act, with maker and object alike transformed in the process.
Miho Dohi is co-curated by Dan Byers, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, and Solveig Øvstebø, Director and Chief Curator of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
The exhibition is co-organized by the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago where it is on view April 18—June 28, 2020.
Generous support for Carpenter Center programing is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.