Rut Bryk: Touch of a Butterfly at Tokyo Station Gallery

Last month, the Mrs. was able to win a lottery from a local online newspaper for tickets to see an exhibit happening at the Tokyo Station Gallery in Tokyo proper. We both went into this experience knowing absolutely nothing about who Rut Bryk was, what kind of art she did, nor anything about what exactly to expect at a train station art gallery. The results were somewhat mixed.

Rut Bryk

The woman of the hour was Rut Bryk, a ceramic artist from Finland. She did her most notable work in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when she worked at the famous Arabia Factory, known since 1873 for its ceramic ware in Finland. She took traditional brushwork she learned from painting, as well as etching, to create some pretty remarkable works in her early career. The whole event was set up to celebrate 100 years of Japanese/Finnish diplomacy. Some of the works on display included The Palace of Venice, Butterfly, and the Golden Abyss. The last of which represented her later, more abstract work, which focused more on shapes and space than it did on realistic representations. In those sections of the museum, photography was prohibited, but please do enjoy some photos of her earlier work.

Tokyo Station Gallery

Located near the north exit, just under the JR Tokyo Station Dome, is the Tokyo Station Gallery. It’s very small, as are most good things in Japan. The museum is packed neatly into three floors, all of which were utilized for the Rut Bryk exhibit. You usually start by taking the elevator to the third floor and then progressively work your way back down to the first floor. They had a petite sitting area and gift shop on the second floor, as well as some exhibition space, while the first floor was mainly lockers, the front desk, and lobby area.

Having seen the whole exhibit, I have to say I’m glad I got the tickets for free. I didn’t really know much about the artist and I’m not especially big on ceramic art or its history, so I feel a lot of that richness and subtlety was lost on me. As always, the number of people present can have a big impact on how much you enjoy yourself, and seeing as we went on a Sunday afternoon, it was dense with art fans. While the exhibition is over, I wouldn’t be against going to another show in this space, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing a bit more research before heading over.


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