Talking Shop

Dream of Fire

Design Miami

Brussels gallerist Pierre Marie Giraud reflects on the unique genius of glass artist Ritsue Mishima

There’s a magic to Ritsue Mishima’s glass creations. Transparent, multidimensional, and luminous, her works both reflect and disappear into their surroundings—simultaneously there and not there like gossamer ghosts. Exquisitely crafting each piece in collaboration with master artisans in the glass making capital of the world, Murano, Mishima has over the last two decades earned a devoted following, attracting not only serious glass connoisseurs but also culture consumers of all stripes. Last year, for example, Italian fashion brand Bottega Veneta spotlighted Mishma’s work in a campaign shot in Venice as well as an installation in their flagship store in Tokyo.

: Dream of Fire on view at Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud. Photo © Hugard & Vanoverschelde

Right now, you can find Mishma’s latest body work at Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud in Brussels. The exhibition, RITSUE MISHIMA
: Dream of Fire, showcases the Kyoto-born, Venice-based artist’s uncanny affinity for her chosen medium, as she, according to the gallery’s description, “unceasingly challenges herself to explore the boundaries of glass’s possibilities.”

To mark the occasion, we interviewed the gallery’s principal, Mr. Giraud himself, a world-class specialist in exquisitely crafted objets d’art and a long-time supporter of Mishima’s career. When Giraud first encountered her work nearly 20 years ago, he instantly recognized her genius, and the current exhibition represents his gallery’s eighth Mishima solo show to date. Who better to share insights into why Mishima is one of the most riveting and innovative glass artists of our time?

Ritsue Mishma at work in her glass studio in Murano. Screenshot from video © Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud

When did you first encounter Ritsue’s work, and what drew you to it?

When I discovered Ritsue’s work in 2005, I was immediately fascinated by her aesthetic. Her fresh, contemporary approach to working with pure uncolored and transparent Cristallino di Venezia [Venetian crystal] had a great impact on me.

How would you characterize the relationship between form, light, and color (or lack of color) in Ritsue’s work?

Ritsue knows how to exploit the plasticity of the material better than anybody else in the glass world. Her formal inspirations vary from the very peaceful and simple to the exuberant and sometimes violent. The transparency of the uncolored glass draws you into a strong interaction with her forms. You don’t stay inert around her work! You want to walk around it and observe how it plays with the light of its environment.

: Dream of Fire on view at Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud. Photo © Hugard & Vanoverschelde

Have you seen Ritsue at work in the glass studio? How would you characterize her process during the act of making?

I have seen her at work many times, and I would compare it to a ballet—where every protagonist knows exactly where to be and what to do, giving the impression of a natural flow. At first, you might think that many things are improvised, because there’s a lot of movement, tension, and a sense of urgency. Yet in fact everything is meticulously planned, well organized, and under control. I especially admire how she communicates with the master glassblowers using very few words, very silently. It really is like a dance.

Ritsue Mishima at work with a master glassblower in Murano. Screenshot of video © Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud

How would you characterize the collectors of Ritsue’s work?

Many glass collectors consider Ritsue Mishima to be the greatest artist of her time. Her work is collected by both glass connoisseurs and art collectors. She’s also very well represented in museums all over the world, such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

How do you see Ritsue’s work in relation to the gallery’s program more broadly? How does her work embody your curatorial approach?

I love to show artists who combine a strong inspiration with a deep knowledge of the material that they work with. Creativity and solid foundations are key to building a long career. I believe Ritsue’s work is a perfect illustration of that.

Spin North and Medusa by Ritsue Mishima. Photo © Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud

What’s next for Ritsue?

From September 17th until October 30th, Ritsue will have a solo exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. This is certainly an event to look forward to.

Thank you, Pierre Marie!


 Dream of Fire
 is on view at Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud in Brussels through October 1st.