In proof that life does work in mysterious ways, a new exhibition of work at Ace Hotel Kyoto showcases an unexpected dialogue between centenarian Japanese artist Samiro Yunoki and the American artist Kori Girard, the grandson of textile designer/artist Alexander Girard. Yunoki and the younger Girard first crossed paths when both were commissioned by the LA-based firm Commune Design (who oversaw the hotel's interior design) to create work for the hotel; Yunoki designed the typeface and logo for the hotel and created all the artwork in the hotel's guest rooms, while Girard designed the tile floor of the hotel's restaurant, Mr Maurice's Italian, as well as the silk screened panels within the space.
'It was in working with Commune Design on the hotel's restaurant design that I was more formally introduced to Yunoki-san's work,' recalls Girard. 'The more I saw, the more I felt an undeniable connection.'
Girard requested a meeting with Yunoki through a mutual friend and 'during our visit, [Yunoki] shared many stories including one about a trip to the Girard Wing at the Museum of International Folk Art in New Mexico,' Girard continues. 'He explained that he was very influenced by this exhibition and that after he saw it, he felt a greater sense of possibility in his own work. I was very excited to make this connection as the Girard Wing of the MOIFA has also been a huge and lifelong influence on my work.'
Prompted by Roman Alonso, Commune Design's co-founder, a two-person exhibition of Yunoki and Girard was proposed for the inaugural show at the gallery space at Ace Kyoto.
'Yunoki-san accepted the idea and promptly said he would have his works for the show done ASAP and that he would be working in collage,' Girard relates. 'Inspired by his energy and fervour, I decided to create a kindred body of work in the same medium. The relationship of the pieces is found in a reverence for the concepts of “play" and “colour".'
Comprised of six works from each artist, 'East Meets West' is a celebration of colour, geometry and form. It also coincides with Yunoki's 100th birthday and poetically underscores the longevity an artist's creative legacy can have.
'It was clear to me that the opportunity to make a show in conjunction with Yunoki-san would open up my practice to explore a more spontaneous and abstract approach,' Girard concludes. 'I also believe the long-distance collaboration for this show worked so well, only because the spirit of our interaction was rooted in undying curiosity and devotion to a creative life. I am humbled and excited to share what came of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'
'East Meets West' will run until January 10, 2023 at Ace Hotel Kyoto. acehotel.com
Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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