Here and There and Back Again, Japanese Art 1964 – 2024
Press Release

Nicolas Krupp Gallery is very excited to present a group exhibition of historically important Post World War II and contemporary artists with a strong link to Japan from May 4th through June 29th, 2024. Curated by Anne Mosseri-Marlio who has a longstanding fascination with Japan, post-World War II art and Gutai, the exhibition is inspired by personal exposure, experiences, interpretations and some artists’ reactions to historical events. She has selected a group of paintings, works on paper and sculptures from 1964 to 2024 by eleven artists born in Japan and who had travelled, lived or exhibited abroad.

On the basis that strong and diverse artistic traditions and styles, current events and philosophies may influence contemporary art, that trends can be global but uniquely interpreted, it is interesting to examine works from a different culture, and, in this case, an island nation. At its core Japan is very close to its traditions but open to adjustments. To the foreign admirer, contemporary Japanese art is fascinating as we share visual points of reference but these are differently assimilated, interpreted and not always fully comprehended as originally conceived by the artist.

Here There and Back Again includes works of two artists from the very influential post-war Gutai Art Association whose leader Yoshihara Jirō instilled the motto “to do what has never been done before” (sic.) to its members. Both Yamazaki Tsuruko (1925 – 2019) and Onoda Minoru (1937 – 2008) experimented with newly available materials and freedom of expression from the traditional yokes of calligraphy and traditional subjects. Using bold, fluid colors on a tin surface, Yamazaki allows movement and weightlessness to flow on and emanate from the surface of a painting. She introduced humor and her extraverted personality into her artworks and installations. The various colors, size and depths of the three-dimensional 1964 painting that Onoda Minoru covered with various tiny to small sized circles on a yellow background mesmerize. They lead to natural visual and imaginary digressions. Their positioning on the relief structure evokes amorphous shapes and transports us into other imaginary worlds as he examines depth and the perimeter. His hand painted 1988 kite made for the Pictures for the Sky / Kunstdrachen, Bilder für den Himmel, will be exhibited for the first time since the 1988 – 1992 exhibitions / performances originating in Japan.

Additionally, Mishima Kimiyo (b. 1932) knew the Kansai-based Gutai group and Yoshihara well. She expressed her concerns about the new abundance of information, Japanese economic growth and concern for nature through the use and reproduction of newsprint and advertising in paintings as well as ceramic sculptures.

The journey continues with Miyamoto Kazuko (b. 1942) whose string installation forms a sensory dialogue between architecture and ourselves, our senses and ability to perceive. The preciseness of the minimalist language she embraced since moving to New York and simple tools invite us to examine space, depth, light and movement. Silence and gentleness seem to exude from the string installation.

Morimoto Eri (b. 1978) records sand or mist through time-based methodology with thousands of minute marks on canvas and documented on paper. She evokes the preciseness of the movement to the faint sound of a metronome and the delicate substance through her style and color palette, positioning of each stroke as an element in balance with nature.

Oki Junko (b. 1963) uses previously used special garments, specially selected threads to intricately and densely stitch and embroider them to create vibrant sculptural paintings. Some are specially shaped; others have an organic shape determined by the stitching or are flowing within their frame. A secret message, known to the artist or person who gifted the thread or gown remains silent. Poetry accompanies Oki’s practice and is noticeable in her oeuvre.

A fascinating journey to another universe and awaking of our senses and consciousness is presented by Tsuchiya Nobuko (b. 1972) using found objects. A traveler at heart, finding relevance amongst objects or events, documenting situations and happenstance, Tsuchiya loves interaction between objects, space and creates microcosm from them. Her installations are often interconnected, very light and airy and include the viewer in a cocoon.

Recent tondo and square paintings by Mochizuka Miki (b. 1974) disclose the underlying color layers to present abstract or floral motifs under a rich, dark, varnished surface. Imaginary nature from another world in psychedelic colors on a dark background comes to mind.

A juxtaposition of contemporary portraiture is expressed in the paintings by TABAIMO (b. 1975) and Sato Ataru (b. 1986). Emotions and personalities are expressed in detail in different medium and levels of disclosure. Tabaimo’s traditional worlds are above and below the surface, include botanical and anatomical drawings. Sato’s portraits are heavily biographical, often involve motion, dreams and his surroundings. His works often cover the whole surface, allowing the observer to choose their own path.

The vibrant young Japanese art scene is represented by two large and medium scale oil paintings by Yamada Kohei (b. 1997). They present space and colors through large monochrome panes, thick black lines enclosing slivers of varied colors. The imaginary architecture and landscapes - whose origins are memories, covered up through many layers of paint, like time -are bold yet just beyond our reach.

Read more