Earlier last week, I visited the large-scale solo exhibition “Arai Junichi – Tradition and Creation” at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery.
The exhibition was simply gorgeous. The space was divided into three rooms. The first room introduced Arai’s cutting-edge creativity. Sheets of fabric were laid on tables in a dark room with soft lights that highlighted their different shades and glimmers. On the walls, there were videos showing collaboration works with Issey Miyake, footage from Paris Fashion Week and video clips of Arai’s techniques. Pieces of fabrics were also displayed most likely to satisfy my (and probably everyone else in the gallery) urge to touch his cloths.
In the second room his latest works were displayed hanging from the ceiling and the last room, throughout a corridor, a slide show projected on the floor showed inspirational ethnic handicrafts and pictures taken throughout the world.
ARAI Junichi was born in 1932 in Kiryu a city in Gunma prefecture that has been an important center for textile production for 400 years. As the sixth generation of a mill-owning family, Arai experimented from an early age with textiles using new dyeing and weaving techniques. Through yarn development, dyeing, weaving, and finishing, he created fabrics with a wide variety of textures that has been an endless source of inspiration.
Arai’s international reputation grew further when his unique fabrics caught the attention of fashion designers and in the 70s and 80s he collaborated with renowned Japanese fashion designers such as Miyake Issey and Kawakubo Rei (Comme Des Garcons).
His work has been collected by major museums around the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). In 1987, he was awarded the title of Honorable Royal Designer for Industry by the British Royal Society of Arts. He also dedicates to training the younger generations.