Early Life, Themes of Nowness and Spirituality
Mai Miyake accesses inner monologues and identities which are both Japanese and not, drawing on her own international upbringing and outlook. Born in Japan, growing up in Australia and educated in France, her own inspirations are manifold and various.
Beyond place, she is an artist preoccupied with time itself and its intersection with the very purpose and even origins of human life. She assesses and questions the true nature of things by seamlessly connecting the past, present, and future. In so doing, she allies a belief and passion for the intricacy and perfectionism of the traditional arts and crafts of Japan with her own spiritual contemplation.
Academia and Early Career
Mai Miyake graduated from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2008, and remains a leading figure in academia in her native Japan, where she was appointed Professor of Art & Design at Kyoto University in 2017. Prior to graduating, she had won acclaim for contributions to exhibitions such as 2005’s “Criterium 65" at the Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito (Ibaraki, Japan) and “[express] Shanghai” at the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art in the same year.
An artist who restlessly explores the nature of her national identity, and the heritage and customs of Japan, Mai Miyake continually interrogates Japanese culture and its friction points with western civilization. She developed and expounded these themes in other successful shows in the following years, such as 2008’s “Auspicious” at the Gallery Kochukyo in Tokyo and 2010’s “NEXT Vol.1 Sparkling Days” at Yokohama Civic Art Gallery.
Diversity of Output and Emotion
Her practice fuses traditional media with emergent technologies (including artificial intelligence), asserting the perspective that they are all objects made by the hands of man and are thus on the same plane. Her work creates feelings of nostalgia and pathos, which not infrequently give way to touches of humour, mischief and subtle disorientation.
Prizes and Versatility
This range of output and emotion has seen her win accolades in Japan which included the Terrada Art Award in 2015, and the Bulgari Aurora Award of 2016.
The artist has shown herself to be exceptionally versatile and fluid in her creative expression, able to harness elemental, man-made and technological forms to apply the most subtle and flexible meanings to her work. This chameleon-like flexibility of approach brings antiques, craftwork, contemporary art, design, product making, and literature into her sway. In addition to publishing novels and essays through historic Japanese publishers such as Kodansha, she has engaged in a wide range of activities such as serving as a director of Shiseido the Store Window Gallery since 2018. Her fourth book, entitled “Everybody’s Girl is Nobody’s Girl” was published in 2017.
First Presentation at Art Basel
Mai Miyake’s work is being presented for the first time in Ora-Ora’s booth at Art Basel Hong Kong. Her new series of scrolls melds the ancient and the modern, the classical and the contemporary, human-made and elemental, to form a concept which is of all times and just one: the now. Exploring those departure points and cross-roads where the Japanese fantastical and allegorical make contact with everyday norms, she forms new imagined realities which are anchored in glass, wood and stone. Her love of collage and of combinations situates her as an artist devoted to eschewing limitation.
Recent solo exhibitions by the artist include 2018’s “The Salt of the Earth” at Shibuya Kuroda Touen (Tokyo, Japan) and "Tea Ceremony Fascination of Art and Design - Marcel Wanders, Sudo Reiko, Miyake Mai" at Oita Prefectural Art Museum in the same year. She has featured in several recent museum exhibitions, including 2019’s “Throughout Time: The Sense of Beauty World” Heritage Site Nijo-jo Castle, Ninomaru Goten Mori Museum, 2018’s” Kanazawa: Altering Home" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa and 2018’s ‟BOTANICA" at the Busan Museum of Art in South Korea.