Food or Art?: Osamu Watanabe's Jakarta Exhibition

'Heaven Pomegranate' by Osamu Watanabe. (JG Photo/Joy Muchtar)

By : Joy Muchtar | on 6:29 PM July 27, 2018
Category : Life & Style, Arts & Culture

Jakarta. Visitors to Art:1 New Museum in Central Jakarta this week spent their time looking really closely at cake-like sculptures (or were they sculpture-like cakes?) – the unicorn that looked like it was made from jelly beans was especially popular – and trying to figure out if they were edible or not.

The artworks truly looked like they were decorated with real whipped cream, fruits, candies and chocolates. They are part of Japanese artist Osamu Watanabe's first overseas solo exhibition titled "Museum Cake."

'Unicorn' by Osamu Watanabe. (Photo Courtesy of Art:1) 'Unicorn' by Osamu Watanabe. (Photo Courtesy of Art:1)

Don't even try to sink your teeth into these creations, however, because none of them is actually made of sweets – no matter how delicious it looks to the naked eye.

With a mixture of gypsum, modelling paste, clay, paraffin and resin, Watanabe manages to perfectly recreate the look of confectionary desserts.

Not to be confused with the retired Japanese wrestler, this soft-spoken contemporary artist graduated from Tokyo Zokei University majoring in design.

Watanabe dedicates his creations to his mother, who he says is the main source for his fanciful ideas.

Osamu Watanabe explains one of his artworks to visitors. (Photo Courtesy of Art:1 New Museum) Osamu Watanabe explains one of his artworks to visitors. (Photo Courtesy of Art:1 New Museum)

"My mother is a baker and since I grew up watching her make cakes, I feel like I can best express myself through recreating them," Watanabe said.

The artist said he chooses to recreate Western cakes – not Japanese ones – because of their brighter colors.

"Wagashi [traditional Japanese sweets] are beautiful too but Western cakes are more colorful, I love their neon colors," Watanabe said.

In this fantasy room, a rabbit's fur is shaped like dollops of whipped cream, its whole body ladened with miniature cookies and candies. Resisting to lick it will be hard.

'Sanctuary Rabbit' by Osamu Watanabe. (Photo Courtesy of Art:1) 'Sanctuary Rabbit' by Osamu Watanabe. (Photo Courtesy of Art:1)

Exhibition curator Monica tells us how dedicated Watanabe is. "He personally hand-carried all his small decorations and put it together one-by-one," she laughs.

The artist actually does love eating cakes. His favorite cake is Mont Blanc, a dessert of pureed chestnuts filled with whipped cream.

Museum Cake is open until Aug. 28. Admission fee is Rp 100,000 ($7) for adults and Rp 75,000 for students.

If you're lucky, you might catch Watanabe fluttering around his fake cakes in the museum, dressed in a traditional kimono.

Address: Jl. Rajawali Selatan Raya No. 3, Central Jakarta

Contact: 02164700168 | @art1newmuseum on Instagram

Opening hours: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (Tuesday - Saturday), 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Sunday)

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