Mari Minato

Vanishing droplets in a river

March 28 – June 23, 2019

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès presents the first exhibition in Japan of Paris-based artist Mari Minato (born 1981, Kyoto Prefecture). Minato creates works in which she paints abstract motifs, using vivid colors, directly onto buildings; since moving to France in 2006, she has exhibited her works in both solo and group exhibitions, most of them in that country. Additionally, in recent years she has created permanent murals in venues including the Hôpital Necker – Enfants Malades (2014, Paris) and the café of the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (2018).
Vanishing droplets in a river features conventional gallery exhibits, but the exhibition also sees Minato paint on Maison Hermès’s glass block façade, in her first attempt to capture the shifting flow of time and light inside and outside a building.

Returning to the origins of various civilizations, Minato takes an interest in what people throughout history have shared, or forgotten, and gives new expression to their traces and distortions.
While they suggest bold, improvised movements, her paintings actually derive from meticulous research and observation, based as they are on sketches that she has made of the site before getting to work.
Utsuwa (Vessel), which will be painted on the building’s façade ahead of the exhibition at Maison Hermès Le Forum, was inspired by the universality of pots — which have been so important to human civilization — as well as the image of a glass building incorporating its surroundings while coexisting with changes in time and light.
In the gallery, the displayed works are centered on a number of motifs that played significant roles in different civilizations and cultures, from the Yellow River civilization to the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Islamic worlds. Minato takes an anthropologist’s perspective, expressing all the layers of the cultural fusion and mutual exchange that she discerned while researching everyday articles: statues made of stone, terracotta, bone, iron, and ceramic; talismans and other religious artifacts; pots and tools.
These meditative works carefully consider the flow of time since the olden days when populations settled temporarily, building their homes then moving on, guided by buildings and nature. What do the works reveal about history? What traces do they bequeath to us?


The red, orange, and pink lights decorate the surface of the glass blocks, progressing from east in the morning to west in the evening; as they do so, we see the glass glisten as though wet, and we notice the light’s own quality. Inside Le Forum, too, this introduces a red-tinged light into the gallery space.
“Fluorite,” the name of the substance that forms the basis of the fluorescent colors I use in the installation, derives from the Latin word “fluere,” meaning “to flow.” From the inside, the installation evokes “layers, the flowing stream of civilization,” which chimes with “the flow of brushstrokes/color (light)/life” generated by the installation both inside and outside.
– Mari Minato

Artist Profile


Mari Minato

Born in Kyoto, Japan; currently living in Paris, France. After completing a graduate course in Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) at Kyoto City University of Arts, Minato studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She is best known for brilliantly colored works made up of abstract motifs that she executes on walls and buildings. Though Minato’s paintings evoke bold, spontaneous actions, they are actually based on sketches of scenes the artist has seen in the area and start with detailed research and observation. After establishing a base in Paris, Minato has continued to consider the question, “Why did people begin to paint?”, while studying indigenous peoples such as the Celts, Gauls, and ancient Romans, who provided the foundation for European culture.

Minato’s recent solo shows include Notes, entre deux fleuves (Galerie Eric Dupont, Paris, 2017) and Space Parts (Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, New York, 2016); and her recent group exhibitions include the Japan Alps Art Festival 2017: Shinano-Omachi Food and Art Corridor (Nagano, 2017) and Behavior Model: Takao Minami, Mari Minato, Yushi Yashima (Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, 2014).

General Information


  • Exhibition Period:
    March 28(Thu)- June 23(Sun),2019
    [ Façade Painting “Utsuwa”:  March 21(Thu) – May 6 (Mon), 2019 ]
  • Opening hours:
    Mon-Sat 11:00-20:00 (Last entry 19:30)
    Sun 11:00-19:00 (Last entry 18:30)
    Open daily (*Except for April 12) / Free Admission
  • Venue:
    Ginza Maison Hermès Le Forum (8F, 5-4-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan TEL: 03-3569-3300)
  • Organizer:
    Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
  • Patronage:
    Ambassade de France/Institut français du Japon