Artists: Tets Ohnari


I first saw one of Tets Ohnari’s installations one year ago at his first exhibition here at Atelier 35. It was a big map of the world made on a sheet of glass by controlled cracks. It was a spectacular sight. It was luminous but dark in the same time. It had the sadness of the cracks and the joyful revelation of the design of the map coming out of chaos. He is now presenting other objects from the series and they all are variations of the same motifs: how to bring order out of chaos, to heal the broken, to present the same object just by changing its volume. I was talking these days with him about the clash of our cultures. I even asked him the most general and stupid question about how he sees the differences between Japan and Europe. Instead of mocking me for my naiveté he told me abruptly that “Here in Europe everything is about joy whereas in Japan everything is about training”. I couldn’t argue with that (by the way, Tets means philosophy in Japanese) although I have some annotations. There is a local spirit here on the banks of Dâmbovi?a that connects us to the fatalist approach of life from Far East. And this is clearly visible when we look at our day-to-day language. We use very often the sentence “Asta e!” which is imperfectly translatable in English by “That’s it!” It’s much more than that. It means also that our will couldn’t change the situation we’re in. This existential Romanian maneuver is fairly close to the Japanese semi-fatalist approach. Still, here in the Balkans the consequence of this philosophy is often laziness. We don’t protest like other west Europeans nor do we try harder to improve our given skills. “Asta e!” becomes “Du?manul binelui e mai binele.” (The enemy of good is better). I suspect that for Japanese this is quite strange although when you work with glass this sentence does apply.

The mind-set of each man is influenced deeply by cultural factors so we should take into consideration that Tets believes there is no distinction between craft and art. In essence the gesture is the same. It’s all in one word just like it used to be in Ancient Greece with the word techne. Man doesn’t modify the substance of the world, he can only change the face of the same substance. It’s like making waves with the hand in a stream of flowing water (Dan Popescu)