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Monopoly Money Sculptures Combine Consumerism with Creativity

Yuken Teruya turns currency into miniature plants.

Kevin Holmes


Yuken Teruya, Monopoly 2 (detail), 2015-16, mixed media 49 x 49 x 9 cm, 19.3 x 19.3 x 3.5 in approx. Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist

The practical objects that litter our lives are the basis for New York-based Japanese artist Yuken Teruya's intricate, miniature sculptures which often relate to the natural world. Paper bags, McDonald's sacks, and toilet paper rolls are transformed in Teruya's work, finding elegance where there was none. Inspired by the work of artists like Felix González-Torres, who created profound statements from commonplace items like wall clocks, Teruya turns the functional into something ethereal and captivating.

The artist has a new exhibition, which opens today, at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London where he's presenting a range of new work. Called Monopoly, like the name would suggest, it takes its theme from the popular board game. But it relates to more than just family leisure time, the show addresses the link between consumerism and nature—small shoots and plant sculptures looking like new-growth on a forest floor are cut, twisted, and fastened from the colored Monopoly money in a time-consuming process, resulting in delicate works of art. The idea is a development from the themes the artist explored the last time his work was at the gallery back in 2013.


Yuken Teruya, Monopoly 2 (detail), 2015-16, mixed media 49 x 49 x 9 cm, 19.3 x 19.3 x 3.5 in approx. Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist

"That show featured paper bag cut outs from my Notice-Forest series, as well as several cut newspaper pieces," Teruya tells The Creators Project. "At the time, I had also started working with dollar bills and other banknotes. I wanted to develop these ideas and their connections to current issues. For me, the concept of incorporating Monopoly boards into my work was a natural and fun progression, particularly in relation to my exploration of the economy and consumerism. I’m predominantly interested in this intersection between nature and value."

Along with the Monopoly work there are also money trees made from stacked rolled dollar bills with fragile, detailed money branches hanging from them, Euros with plants flourishing upwards, and on the flip side there are leaves but with the markings of American currency—branded with the numerical values from a bill and a serial number. 

"I tend to transform objects which have already been circulated within consumerism, such as money and paper bags, in order to create an idealized version of what they used to be, i.e., trees and foliage. My intention is to give life back to the paper which I use and to highlight the origin of everyday materials."

Yuken Teruya, Monopoly 2 (detail), 2015-16, mixed media 49 x 49 x 9 cm, 19.3 x 19.3 x 3.5 in approx. Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist
 


Yuken Teruya, Money Tree 2 and Money Tree 1, 2015-16, Dollar notes 54 x 15 x 15 cm, 21.3 x 5.9 x 5.9 in, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist


Yuken Teruya, Detail: Federal Reserve, 2015-16, leaves dimensions variable, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist


Yuken Teruya, Detail: Federal Reserve, 2015-16, leaves dimensions variable, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist


Yuken Teruya, Green Economy Group 1, 2014, Euro notes 36 x 21 cm, 14.2 x 8.3 in, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist


Yuken Teruya, Green Economy Group 2, 2014, Euro notes 25 x 16 cm, 9.8 x 6.3 in, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist


Yuken Teruya, Green Economy Group 4, 2014  Euro notes 34 x 23 cm, 13.4 x 9.1 in, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist


Yuken Teruya, Monopoly 2, 2015-16, mixed media 49 x 49 x 9 cm, 19.3 x 19.3 x 3.5 in approx. Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist

Visit Monopoly from January 22, 2016 to February 13, 2016 at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, 6 Heddon St, London W1B 4BT.

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