Michel Blazy, Maison Hermès, Tokyo, Sept 16 – Nov 27 2016

At Le Forum, Tokyo, French artist Michel Blazy presents Living Room II, a living installation involving plants, agar-agar and his team of snail assistants. Through his astonishing contemporary vanitas works, Michel Blazy transforms the natural cycle into art and challenges our ‘hygienist’ approach to the world around us.

In the light-filled space of Le Forum, Michel Blazy (b. 1966 in France) presents an astonishing Lâcher d’escargots (‘Snail release’): an iconic work in (slow) motion that gives the gasteropods free rein to move about and leave their silvery trails across a large piece of carpet, for the duration of the show. Close by, a pair of shoes, a games console and a coffee machine discover new lives as containers for growing plants, while one wall displays a painting in vanilla cream, nibbled by mice.

Living Room II is Michel Blazy’s first solo exhibition in Japan. Featuring some thirty works from 1993 to 2016, it reveals the rich poetry of his atypical oeuvre, in which extraordinary beauty and (relative) ugliness stand cheek by jowl. Blazy collaborates with nature itself, delegating the transformation of his works to the creative powers of decomposition, mould or germination. The results are a celebration of the life cycle, and especially the infinite resources of nature compared to the limited lifespans of man-made consumer goods.

At Le Forum, Michel Blazy invites us to relax in the eponymous Living Room. But the title can be taken literally, too: this is truly a living, constantly-evolving space, in complete contrast to the generally antiseptic atmosphere of the exhibition space. For curator Reiko Setsuda, this critical dimension offers a further challenge to ‘our civilization’s tendency to eliminate certain landscapes in the name of comfort’.

photo : Nacása & Partners Inc. / Courtesy of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès