Tam Ochiai

scratching, blood or cat carving

installation view from scratching, blood or cat carving at Tomio Koyama Gallery, 2007 ©Tam Ochiai


Tam Ochiai works in various media including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, and performances that invite audience-participation. In an early series entitled “Shopping Bags,” which has been shown in New York and at the Art Tower Mito in Japan, Ochiai painted small abstract expressionist paintings resembling signatures on shopping bags. Throughout his oeuvre, Ochiai’s works have explored the slippages of everyday life to draw subtle connections between the light and the heavy, and the serious and the humorous.
His drawings, which resemble an archive of scattered thoughts, at times function as parts, or like tiny germinating buds encapsulating an exhibition theme, and at others constitute an entire exhibition by themselves. Ochiai pulls snippets of inspiration from everyday non-events such as misspelled words, questionable mathematical formulas, quotations from films or novels, used in pieces or in repetition, or the curious harmony between a girl’s hairstyle and a striped shirt. Given these fragments, the viewer is naturally tempted to try and imagine the whole.


This exhibition is constituted by two series of works, “Cat Carving” and “Cat Curving”. “Cat Carving” features both sculptures by and of cats. While Ochiai fabricated the sculptures of cats, other pieces were completed through actions such as scratching, sculpting, sliding, and napping, performed by actual cats. “Cat Curving,” on the other hand, is a series that highlights both the graceful lines of a cat’s body and the curved lines seen in art nouveau designs, which sometimes look as if they were drawn by cat’s paws.