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Inspired by Japanese Swords, an Artist Smiths Her Paintings

Photos courtesy of Miya Ando and the Sundaram Tagore Gallery (bottom)
Photos courtesy of Miya Ando and the Sundaram Tagore Gallery (bottom)

American artist Miya Ando descends from a family of Japanese sword-smiths and Buddhist priests—an influence that manifests strongly in her minimalist metal works. Her "Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban)," a new work, is currently on display at this year's Venice Art Biennale, and it features her signature metallic paintings in their first installation. Ando apprenticed one year with a Japanese swordsmith and she uses heat, acids, electricity, and other tools to transform steel and aluminum into a canvas for color, reflectivity, and opacity.

Ando describes her work as assimilating tradition into the present: her works directly recall the cloudy hamon, or pattern, of a Japanese sword's blade, but, in some cases, uses the same anodizing technology found in the aerospace industry. The igneous-black boards that cover "Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban)" are a traditional Japanese building material known to resist fire and are still found on buildings in Okayama, Japan, where Ando was raised.

Miya Ando [Miya Ando]
All Venice Art Biennale 2015 posts [Curbed]