Yasuaki Onishi Builds from the Ceiling Down in New Installation at Rice

Yasuaki Onishi's latest installation at the Rice Art Gallery.
Yasuaki Onishi's latest installation at the Rice Art Gallery.
Photo by Ruby Yeh

Many architects have been fascinated by Yasuaki Onishi's work, because instead of building from the ground up, the Japanese artist focuses on constructing something from the ceiling down.

He uses translucent plastic sheets draped across large spaces, held afloat by strings of black glue, to create monumental structures that resemble clouds and mountains -- and starting Friday, his work will be on display at Rice University.

The Rice University Art Gallery commissioned Onishi to create an installation in conjunction with the Grand Opening of the Asia Society Texas Center's Houston headquarters.

This site-specific installation is the latest addition to Onishi's Reverse of Volume series. He first began this series on a smaller scale by draping the sheets over smaller objects such as chairs or suitcases, and then removing the objects underneath to leave their impressions, suspended by thousands of strings of glue.

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Rows of almost invisible fishing wire are stretched across the Rice Art Gallery space, and Onishi drips the black glue with a glue gun onto the plastic sheeting below. He views his work as the process of reversing sculptures and creating a negative void.

Onishi focuses his series on the usage of simple lighting and black and white. He has previously used fluorescent colored paint in conjunction with black lights in dark rooms, but has shifted his focus to something more simplistic and natural.

Thousands of strings of glue are used to suspend a simple plastic sheeting
Thousands of strings of glue are used to suspend a simple plastic sheeting
Photo by Ruby Yeh

The new art installation will be on display April 13 through June 24 at the Rice University Art Gallery, 6100 Main. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 7 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.. The gallery is closed Mondays and university holidays. Summer hours from May 7 to June 24 will be Monday through Friday, 11a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is free.


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