Susumu Shingu the sculptor of wind

Susumu Shingu aerial sculptures are floating in the magnificent architectural volumes of MUDAM. The exhibition which opened recently represents an unique occasion in Europe to discover this artist until January 2019.

“Sculptures of Shingu are an example of interactivity; they teach us co-existence without shocks, without tension, despite the movement that animate them; they show us their capacity to maintain their autonomy through interaction, supple and firm at the same time, echoing the slightest breath” (quote: Veronique Jaeger, Galerie Jeanne-Bucher Jaeger, “Sculptures du Respir” 2006)

Co-existence without shocks “ – this phrase could well sum up what JAA Club intends to do: connecting the different cultures, creating interaction between them and, at the same time, highlighting their autonomy.

We have interviewed Véronique Jaeger, director of the Jeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery, and gallerist of Susumu Shingu in Paris.

First of all, how did the Gallery Jeanne Bucher Jaeger came in contact with Mr Shingu and when?

I have met Susumu Shingu in 2005 in Paris through a mutual Editor friend who was working on his first French monograph at Cercle d’Art.  At the time, when Susumu Shingu came to the gallery, I looked at the monograph and thought: it is impossible to show an artist who works with wind inside a gallery. We stayed in contact, during the months afterwards as Shingu was sending me regularly some catalogues and videos about his work. I discovered some of his refined sculptures for interior spaces and wrote Shingu the ones I wanted to exhibit at the gallery. His answer was: it is exactly what I saw when I came to the gallery!

I exhibited his first sculpture and painting exhibition “Sculptures du respir” initially at our gallery space rue de Seine in 2006. Susumu Shingu – and the artist Michael Biberstein whose Church ceiling of 900m of sky painting we inaugurated in Lisbon 3 years ago – are the 2 new artists I exhibited rue de Seine when I started directing the gallery in 2003; they are the main reasons why I opened a second space for the gallery in the Marais in 2008. I felt I needed to show them in a wider exhibition space as their work were of a different scale. In 2006, the Munich-based filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer contacted me through a common friend and discovered Shingu’s Sculpture du Respir exhibition at the gallery. This lead to a beautiful movie which took 6 years to film entitled Breathing Earth – Susumu Shingu’s Dream which has been shown in Paris, Naples, Montreal and is making people aware of Shingu’s dream life project and his lifelong oeuvre which should become more and more of a reality throughout our planet.

Despite the worldwide fame of Mr Susumu Shingu can you tell us a bit about his biography and artistic path?

Susumu Shingu, when I met him, had an independent path outside the gallery and museum’s world as he worked mainly with architects and in public spaces. He has had numerous collaborations with famous architects worldwide and started working with the gallery 12 years ago. Between 2000 and 2001, he took 21 of his sculptures entitled Wind Caravan which he brought in six remote places of the planet in Japan, New Zealand, Mongolia, Finland, Brazil and Morocco amongst the Maoris, the Berbers, the Samis… and lived on each site for 3 months, meeting the local people and doing workshops with local children. The Wind Caravan sculptures placed in the Dräi Eechelen Park around the Mudam Luxembourg have thus travelled a long path! We have placed his work mainly in private and public collections throughout the years, whether inside or outside spaces. His exhibition Spaceship initiated last year in Japan in 3 museums and travelled from Tadao Ando’s Hyogo Prefectural Museum in Kobe to Ieoh Ming Pei’s Mudam in Luxembourg. We hope it continues to travel worldwide to make people aware of Shingu’s wonderful Art working with wind, water and sunlight as well as bringing attention to the Wind Museum he founded in Sanda a few years ago, in the Arimafuji Hyogo Prefectural Park, next to Osaka.  We think it is essential to make people aware of his lifelong dream-project entitled Breathing Earth: the creation of a self-sufficient village living with the natural energies and elements, bringing together the expertise of people in the field of Science, Art, Music, Education and Environment and Food. His sculptures are alive and, through them, we rediscover fundamental life principles. Breathing Earth is a place of inspiration for all people and his art can provide an impetus for a healthier relationship with our planet. We are extremely happy to see children, adults and elderly people coming to Mudam Luxembourg as well as to the gallery and witness their immediate relationship with Shingu’s  sculptures which are fundamentally alive.

Why is Susumu so attracted by architecture ? (see the collaboration with the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano)

Susumu Shingu’s sculptures are beautiful when they have space around them as they have volume and movement and no weight. Susumu Shingu collaborated with many architects but the architect he mostly collaborated with is Renzo Piano through their 10 collaborations; this is not surprising as Renzo Piano’s architecture is light and transparent and plays beautifully with Shingu’s mobiles. Piano’s latest masterpiece in Athens, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center includes the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera as well as a Park around of 210 000m2. The Cultural Center is built around Education, Culture and Sustainability – 3 main aspects of our 21st century – and is almost entirely sustainable as the roof solar panels provide for 90% of the building energy. Three permanent sculptures by Susumu Shingu were recently installed on site in the Entrance lobby, inside the Library and the Opera. They are large mobile sculptures playing beautifully with the on-site transparent architecture.

Susumu works aim at capturing the invisible forces of the nature (wind – it becomes in fact visible only when it touches things, gravity, light, heat etc) which effect our entire world, including our bodies.
By what means does he work on those ideas?

I am always thrilled to see how people respond to Susumu Shingu’s sculptures – whether at the
gallery, in collector’s homes and in public spaces. When people come into the gallery, they enter the space with all the city’s agitation and accelerated rhythm; their instant reaction when they see the sculptures is to stop, walk more slowly and observe and contemplate the sculptures and their shadows on the wall; the natural rhythms of these sculptures thus affect  our own personal rhythms. It proves that people feel with their body an immediate natural connection with these sculptures: you become aware that there is air flowing throughout your body and blood inside your veins as well as water inside your body. When Susumu Shingu did the Wind Caravan project in six remote places of the planet with different climates – the autochtones whether Samis, Berbers and Maoris – felt an immediate connection with his works as suddenly the wind they were accustomed to live with was rendered visible with Shingu’s sculptures.

Sculptures are normally solid, they reject the wind and they fight against the atmosphere. Susumu’s sculptures on the opposite : have no volume, do not resist to the wind but they move with it, they interact with the surrounding atmosphere, are weightless and aerial, yet they seem very powerful and resistant.

Yes, Susumu Shingu’s sculptures are not about resistance but about flowing and adapting constantly to the wind. They would be broken if they resisted the wind. Japan is a country where they are very severe typhoons and Shingu’s sculptures have proved strong resistance in public spaces.  Their beauty and strength come from the fact that they adapt constantly.

This is why his large Windmill sculpture which we presented in his Breathing Earth diorama at the gallery, presently being tested for energy production in his Wind Museum in Japan, is such a revolution: its shape makes its wings catch the slightest breath of air and then move; when there is very strong wind, the wings place themselves horizontally and the wind passes above and underneath without breaking its wings contrary to these awful wind turbines which we see in the landscape today and which need to be stopped when there is too much wind.  Susumu Shingu’s windmill sculptures are beautiful to look at and yet very resistant to different winds! They are an alliance of advanced technology and natural poetry in motion.

Is Susumu concerned with the time-sustainability of his works especially the ones that are installed in the parks?

I have worked with Susumu Shingu for many years and I am always amazed at the humanity I find in each one of his sculpture and drawing: they are all almost human-like and some drawings look like anatomical studies! So of course, we are always heartbroken when we see one of his sculptures damaged. His sculptures are so embedded with his life that when one s broken it almost feels like a part of his body is torn apart. This is why of course the time-sustainability of his work is very important and we should place the greatest care in his work which provokes respect.

In his movie Breathing Earth the artist speaks about clouds. He notices: « they have never the same shape ». The aerial/floating parts of his sculptures seem to try and represent this perpetual movement whereas their structure seem to follow a very precise, geometrical pattern, like the development of the branches in a tree. Is this « skeleton » or structure representing a sort of Order within the Chaos, which, instead could be represented by the unpredictable movement of the floating material?

I have shown Susumu Shingu’s sculptures for 12 years now. I can only say that Shingu has an extraordinary creativity. When I travel with him on a train or a plane, he draws all the time and he is always coming out either with a new idea of a sculpture, a children book, the theme of a new play, a stage design. His creativity is endless and extraordinary ! He wants to show through his sculpture how wonderful the infinite natural forms of our planet are. The structure of his sculptures is very important and, in their changing forms, remain in a state of extreme balance. We have installed numerous water and wind sculptures now and each time, we see that if the sculpture is not perfectly balanced, its movement is not fully graceful. It thus brings our attention all the time to the sculpture and its harmonious movement which echoes our own being as well. There are different rhythms in Nature and the beauty comes when all of these rhythms are finely attuned. The outside Chaos can only be mastered when there is Order inside. This is what these sculptures remind us. Maybe as each one of these sculptures, we should understand that when each one of us is fully attuned as a human being, we could all live together in a global harmony on a Planet Earth which is wonderfully characterized by its endless natural forms and shapes and its infinite wind.

Do not miss the current exhibition @ the Gallery Jeanne Bucher Jaeger:
COSMOS – until 22/09
Jeanne Bucher Jaeger Marais,
5 rue de Saintonge,  75003 PARIS

Photo credits: Georges Poncet, Jeanne Bucher Jaeger , MUDAM.

More information about galleries, museums and exhibitions and artistic activities  in Luxembourg .


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