Lady Gaga’s ‘heel-less’ shoes artist debuts Portland exhibit

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Noritaka Tatehana's first U.S solo exhibit held at Portland Japanese Garden

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The renowned artist behind Lady Gaga’s “heel-less” shoes is holding his first solo exhibition in the U.S. at Portland Japanese Garden.

“Nortiaka Tatehana: Refashioning Beauty” brings the Japanese artist’s work to Portland Japanese Garden from Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, December 1.

Not only will the heel-less shoe exhibit be featured, but dozens of other finely crafted pieces will be, as well. Many of them are large scale and use the space of the room in a unique way, such as an installation of bright red woodcuts that adorn the floor and wall of one section of the exhibit, giant hair broach sculptures and mixed media sword pieces.

All of the work is Tatehana’s attempt to bring traditional Japenese aesthetics into the modern age. The artist explained he was obtaining an art degree specializing in textile art during a time when western fashions were the trend in Japan.

Noritaka Tatehana’s art brings traditional Japanese culture into the modern age. His work is part of an exhibit, Refashioning Beauty, at Portland Japanese Garden from Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, December 1. October 4, 2019 (KOIN/Danny Peterson).

When asked what his reaction that his traditional Japan-inspired shoes were donned by western stars and celebrities–like Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness–he said that made him “happy.”

“It’s my vision of my fashion in contemporary. This is an important thing about historical culture, to contemporary. So for me, my purpose is something like that,” Tatehana said.

The artist’s heel-less shoe designs draws inspiration from the wooden platform clogs worn by the Oiran (Japanese courtesans) during Japan’s Edo period. The Oiran is the main inspiration source for Tatehana’s work overall, which is displayed at the Tanabe and Pavilion Galleries in the garden.

Noritaka Tatehana’s art brings traditional Japanese culture into the modern age and this piece features flowers made from copper. His work is part of an exhibit, Refashioning Beauty, at Portland Japanese Garden from Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, December 1. October 4, 2019 (KOIN/Danny Peterson).

Though the shoes were made by Tatehana alone, some of the other pieces at the exhibit–such as the woodblock prints, stainless steel sculptures and others — were created in collaboration with traditional Japanese craftsmen.

“I’m really interested in traditional Japanese culture and their hands of craftsmen,” Tatehana said.

The pieces feature metalwork, textile art, traditional Japanese lacquer and mother of pearl inlay.

When asked why he chose Portland Japanese Garden to hold his first-ever solo exhibit in the U.S., Tatehana said it reminded him of the place he was raised, Kamakura, a historic town in Japan.

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