Saturday, 17 November 2012

Patrick Dougherty - Twisted Logic

My journey exploring the relation between Land art and Ikebana has taken me to New Jersey's Grounds for Sculpture and Patrick Dougherty's 2004 installation Twisted Logic.

Dougherty is known for working with sticks creating outdoors sculptures that relates to the environment. So why have I chosen a show with works in an exhibition hall? First, this show relates to the building structure of the exhibition hall in much the same way as Dougherty's outdoor sculptures are in dialog with the environment, which is interesting. The only difference being that this installation works with the surroundings from an indoor position. But the main reason why I choose this installation is that it consists of a group of works with quite different characters, making it easier to discuss similarities and differences between Dougherty's work and land art ikebana.

In my opinion the first sculpture shown in the video has quite a lot of ikebana quality to it. The difference between this work and the tower like sculpture in the middle of the exhibition hall is striking. Although they are both structures that invites you to explore and come inside, the first one refers more to natural forms while the last one is clearly architectural in its structure.

Dougherty has named his way of working "natural architecture", comparing it to human architecture, bird nests, and his own playing and building with sticks as a child. It's an example of how many land art artists deals with man made phenomena, like technology and architecture. I'm thinking maybe one significant difference is that an ikebana artist would more likely chose to work with natural forms and phenomena? What do you think?

There are of course also inspiring similarities between Dougherty's work and contemporary ikebana. The most obvious is that he is working mainly with plant materials. But also his way of working the materials into intertwined structures is similar to ikebana techniques, the way he is working with space and maybe even more so his use of lines in the structures. Working with long naked branches of trees gives clear lines in the structure of the installations. Dougherty refers to the lines of the sticks as sweeping lines of pencil drawing. In ikebana clear lines are used to define space and create an asymmetric balance.

Holy Rope, photo: Tadahisa Sakurai
It would be interesting to know if Dougherty himself would relate his work to Japanese esthetics. He's been working in many countries and cultures. During a residency in Japan in 1992 (quite early in his career) he stayed in Riniyo-in Temple in Chiba, where he created three large site works. The one in this picture is named Holy Rope, made from bamboo and reeds (7.6m x 3m). Isn't this sculpture also quite interesting from an ikebana perspective?

And now for some more goodies on "Twisted Logic":

1 comment:

nordic lotus said...

One of my internet ikebana friends Christopher from Australia sent me information on this recent Patrick Dougherty work in Melbourne:
Please also have a look at his interesting blog:

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