A far cry from bulky swatch books, the show emphasises paper’s shapeshifting nature. Many of the pieces are impressively fragile, such as a series of delicate ‘hats’ made by Kenya Hara, who’s curated the show. Hara used laser-cutting technology to make the pieces, which he likens to tiny organisms viewed through a microscope.
There’s also flowers made using pencil sharpeners, pieces of intricate paper lace, and a collection of miniscule petals. The exhibition includes objects that reflect on the material’s cultural and historic links, which means there’s some more traditional pieces such as ribbed fans and envelopes.
To encourage exhibition-goers to focus on the show, the space has been kept mostly quiet except for an irregular two-note sound – similar to that made by ‘shishi-odoshi’ water fountains found in Japanese gardens.
Subtle is the third exhibition at Japan House, and has its roots in Japan’s Takeo Paper Show – a annual trade event that showcases materials, and invites creatives to make paper objects in response to a particular theme.
Japan House opened earlier this year, as part of an initiative run by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to showcase all aspects of the country’s culture. It’s already hosted exhibitions exploring architect Sou Fujimoto’s work, and a showcase of Haruki Murakami book covers.
Subtle: Delicate or Infinitesimal is open until 24 December; japanhouselondon.uk