Unfortunately, due to the effects of covid-19, we were unable to present the solo exhibition of Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang as initially planned. As a result, the group exhibition presented on this occasion was initiated.
In the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, people are subjected to wearing masks. It is not possible to see the face. People who become acquainted for the first time will never see each other’s faces, unless they meet again in the future. Even with those who we are familiar with, we have no choice but to imagine their faces we had seen in the past. Well, of course, this is on the condition that we don’t have an opportunity to dine with them.
Under such circumstances, the idea to organize an exhibition based on the “face” had come to mind, as I realized that many of the artists of Tomio Koyama Gallery have engaged in creating work based on this theme. What kind of appeal and significance does the face have for these artists? Why do they continue to depict the face? Along with these gallery artists, as a guest artist, we invited Kaoru Arima from MISAKO & ROSEN to take part. Furthermore, we are pleased to include a modern watercolor work by the late Katsuzo Satomi, who while also being famous for landscape paintings, I feel has depicted vivid paintings of faces that reflect contemporary sensibilities. The work was kindly loaned to us by the family of the artist, with the cooperation of Gallery Art Morimoto.
Several of the participating artists share their comments regarding the face.
I would like to welcome visitors, who now find themselves viewing the exhibition wearing masks, to embrace the opportunity to see this diverse array of faces that are not in masks.
“One day, the human face had looked to me like a landscape. Ever since, I have been depicting faces as if they were landscapes. (Sculpture) The Faust within me.”
“I feel a touch of anxiety when it comes to communication, should someone’s facial expression be hidden by a mask. I believe that an interest in the face essentially signifies an interest in people.”
“The face is like a door, through which various things come and go. Food, air, light, sound, information, feelings, and things that you don’t understand.”
“I depict faces because it is a motif that most reflects personality.
I feel like I am gradually being affirmed when I am looked at.”
A contaminated “Portrait of Japan.”
In the forest near my studio in Yamanashi, a caution sign appears every year when it comes to the fall season. It reads: “Radioactive substances that exceed the radioactive cesium concentration of general foods stipulated by the Food Sanitation Law, have been detected in Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture. For this reason, please refrain from collecting, shipping and ingesting wild mushrooms for the time being.” Ever since moving to Fuji Yoshida, I have been producing self-portraits with the region’s vast woodlands and virgin forests as the theme. However, the nature of these self-portrait works, have changed in wake of the incident at Fukushima in 2011.
At the time, cesium had spread beyond Tokyo and into the virgin forests of Fujiyoshida in Yamanashi. When coming across this caution sign, the eerie green color of the gamma-ray surveyor inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and the chemical green color of extraterrestrial life, which I often saw in 90s science fiction movies when I was a boy, had strangely connected with one another in my mind. Ever since, the forest of Fujiyoshida looks to me as if viewed through a green filter. I wonder whether this green powder had also poured on to me who lives there. Until now, “self-portraits” were a means for me to depict the relationship between the forest and myself, yet since this incident, I have been producing green “self-portraits” that reflect contamination by cesium. This is in turn a contaminated “Portrait of Japan.”
“What’s a face to me?
A face is an empty mask. We use it, we carry it, as if it were a ghost, an empty screen, that listens, smells, talks, looks at things, and, although charged with the task of conveying our intimacy, of bouncing reality, as a decoder; still remains inscrutable to ourselves. The face of another, is, also, a space where people (including myself) project what they cannot face about one’s own face/mask/ghost/filter.”
“One early dawn, around 4am, 14 years ago…
I woke up and saw my niece Meghan, sat still facing my small studio.
She was facing in one direction, same level as her height at that time.
She was 4 years old.
There were a group of paintings, small.
I shook her shoulder and called her gentle.
She sat still…muted.
After few minutes she laid down and tears filled her eyes.
I was uncomfortable.
Meghan was never quiet.
But, I would guess…and waited till morning.
The sun rose, about 8 in the morning, I saw Meghan already awake. She laid still and was weeping again.
I opened the windows and bright light came in and she was more confident to open her eyes.
I kept asking her, what was wrong? She never said a word.
My house at that time was an old wooden house. The house was very sensitive with some invisible elements and very strong connection with many spirits. I ignored all the presents and I refused to acknowledge anything.
After bath, Meghan started talking. She asked me to keep all my paintings and send them away. Far, far away..
I knew she saw something not so nice.
I packed her stuff and took her home. I kept asking for some clues because that was the first time Meghan acted that way in my home. She was a frequent visitor and never encountered this kind of situation. She did mention a little, she said a person from my painting called her.
Ever since that day she refused to discuss about that day.
Meghan was Fatina’s niece and my house was her playground when she was small. She liked to stay with us and she was a very happy child. She was talkative and attentive.
One fine day, we had lunch together with her brother. Meghan was 12 years old. We were talking about some spooky stories and tried to scare her brother, Max.
I prompted the question to Meghan about the painting incident. She was nervous but willing to share. She said a person came out from my painting. One of my paintings of faces and it was the red face. An old man, he called her by her name, asking her to play together. He was sitting facing her and kept called her name.
I knew the painting. It was from the series of four and related to the four elements, (fire, water, earth and wind). I painted all four faces with subconscious play. I already knew but just needed to know the details. Meghan said, it was so spooky and she was small (4 yrs old) at that time and couldn’t understand the situation so much. She really thought the old man wanted to play and he knew her name and she felt weird.
I am aware of this so call spirit realm. In my Malay tradition and culture, this kind of situation is a common encounter. It is common for artists to paint faces but using some internal practice to transfer some energy, maybe not many artists would do. I was so much into the quantum and was practicing some of my dad’s ‘east way’ whenever I felt the urge to use it. It is the practice of receiving and transferring energy or waves within a specific space or an area, with my own inner energy. I would randomly sync them together and witness the existence.
The faces were never a coincidence, all are meant to be.”
Hideaki Kawashima was born in Aichi, Japan in 1969. After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University in 1991, Kawashima undertook two years of training in Buddhism at the Hieizan Enryakuji Temple from 1995, thereafter commencing his career as an artist in 2001. Kawashima has presented his work in numerous exhibitions internationally and domestically. His major exhibitions include, “Japanese Experience Inevitable” (Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, 2004), “LIFE” (Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki, Japan, 2006), “Idol!” (Yokohama Museum of Art, Kanagawa, Japan, 2006), and “Little Boy” (curated by Takashi Murakami, Japan Society, New York, 2006). In 2007 he took part in the “Pocheon Asia Biennale,” followed by a solo exhibition at the Kukje Gallery (Seoul, South Korea) in 2009, and two solo exhibitions at the Richard Heller Gallery (Santa Monica, USA) respectively in 2011 and 2014.
Naoki Koide was born in Aichi prefecture in 1968. He graduated from Tokyo Zokei University in 1992. He currently lives and works in Chiba. Since the group exhibition “Magic Room” (curated by Satoshi Okada) in 2003, the solo exhibitions “A Couple in the Bathroom” (2004), “Marriage” (2006), and “In These Days” (2008), “Maternity Leave” (2011), this marks the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with Tomio Koyama Gallery. His other major exhibitions include “Cafe in Mito” (2004, Art Tower Mito, Tochigi), “Magical Art Life” (2006, Tokyo Wonder Site, Shibuya), “Fiction@Love” (2006, MOCA Shanghai), “neoneo Part1[BOY]” (2009, Takahashi Collection Hibiya, Tokyo), “Echigo-Tumari Art Trienial” (2009, Nigata) and “Paul Clay” (2011, Salon 94 Bowery, New York).
Born in Tokyo in 1959, and passed away in April 2021.
He held twelve solo exhibitions with Tomio Koyama Gallery: “Abandoned Child” (1997), “View” (1999), “Life and Pus” (2001), “Land Development” (2005), “In the End of Summer” (2007), “Window” (2008), “Sweet and Desserts” (2010), “Only in Dream” (2012), “Bright Days” (2015), “Summer Days” (2019) and “heavenly peach” (2021). He also held two solo exhibitions at Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, the United States, in 2001 and 2008.
His major group exhibitions include “TOKYO POP” (Hiratsuka Museum of Art, Kanagawa, 1996), “The Japanese Experience – Inevitable” (Ursula Blickle Stiftung Foundation, Kraichtal, Germany, 2002; traveled to Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria in 2004), “POPjack: Warhol to Murakami” (Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, 2002), “Japan Pop” (Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, 2005), “Portrait Session” (NADiff, Tokyo / Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, 2007) and “Pathos and Small Narratives” (Gana Art Center, Seoul, Korea, 2011).
Kuwahara started exhibiting his work in the 1980s. He consistently expressed a sense of absurdity with regard to scenery and humanity being changed by modernization. Inorganic buildings and sceneries created by Japan’s economic prosperity during the 1960s and 70s, dolls and toys that were consumed and abandoned to anonymity, and uncanny creatures living by polluted water, are the primary scenery in which Kuwahara himself grew up. He depicted their sadness in light and humorous ways, assimilated with pale color tones and blurred outlines, suggesting our contemporary feelings of fleeting emptiness, dullness, and loneliness, yet also enabling us to sense a mysterious kind of happiness.
Koji Nakazono was born in 1989 in Kanagawa, and died in July 2015 (at 25 years old). He graduated from the Oil Painting course of Tokyo University of the Arts in 2012. In the same year he was selected for “Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi 2012” and received the Tomio Koyama Award and the Audience Award.
He held solo exhibitions at Tomio Koyama Gallery in 2013 and at 8/ ART GALLERY/ Tomio Koyama Gallery in 2014. His first museum solo exhibition was “Koji Nakazono: On the Edge—Places I wanted to see “ at Yokosuka Museum of Art, Kanagawa in 2018.
His works were exhibited at “The Way of Painting” Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2014, “NEW VISION SAITAMA 5 The Emerging Body” at The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama In 2017, “Japanorama: New Vision of JAPAN from 1970” at Centre Pompidou-Metz, France in 2017, “7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art: Clouds⇄Forests” at New Tretyakov Gallery Moscow, Russia in 2017, “DESIRE: A REVISION FROM THE 20TH CENTURY TO THE DIGITAL AGE” at Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2019.
His works are included in the public collection of , The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, Takamatsu Art Museum.
Nakazono’s work amazes us for its prolificacy at his age and its variety in expressions. From a painterly work with the rich brushstrokes of a wide dancing brush, to an intense flood of colors and lines of crayon as if the artist were possessed by something. He also employed various media – linen, board and canvas. By covering all over the surface in an abstract way he limited the depth of the background, and by arranging multiple motifs such as unique figures in layers he is able to create pictorial space with perspective in only a limited area. Wavering motifs come to acquire images, and once they do they start flickering again. Adventurous, idiosyncratic and rich landscapes appear.
8/ tv documentary video at Koji Nakazono exhibition, 2014
*This video has sounds. Please note the volume may be large.
director : Masaya Suzuki
filmed by : Shintaro Yamanaka
music by : yuichi NAGAO
presented by : Shibuya Hikarie 8/
Satoshi Ohno is based in the foot of Mt. Fuji, which embraces ocean of trees. It’s a harsh environment where life and death are repeated, but is also like a cradle and mother’s body that gives birth and nurture various lives. Inspired by the environment, his self-portraits and paintings depicting primeval forests evoke sharp and inherent human senses that are vitalized by the natural pressures felt from the wilderness. His “Prism” series depicts geometrical and man-made beauty as a symbol of the human civilization, and the aggressive and violent progress of the post-modern worldwide capitalism, yet exploring something simply beautiful at the same time. The relationship between the self-portraits from primeval forests and the “Prism” of human civilization may have similarity with the tension depicted in the scene where the black geometrical monolith appears in front of people and animals in the natural scenery in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
Satoshi Ohno was born in 1980 in Gifu. He received B.A. from Tokyo Zokei University, Tokyo in 2004, and currently lives and works in Yamanashi, Japan. His major solo exhibitions include “Prism Violet” at The Contemporary Museum Honolulu, Hawaii (2007), “PROPHET” (2009) “BYE BYE SUNSET” (2013) at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, “Beautiful Dreaming.”(2015) at 8/ ART GALLERY/ Tomio Koyama Gallery. He has participated in many museum group exhibitions including “Art Scope 2012-2014 – Remains of Their Journeys” at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo(2014), “The Way of Painting” at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo (2014), and “Takahashi Collection 2014 Mindfulness!” at Nagoya City Art Museum, Aichi. Recently, he jointed a group exhibition “Come after Magic” at aura gallery taipei, Taipei (2015). His work is included in the public collections such as The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Hara Museum of contemporary art, Tokyo, and The JAPIGOZZI Collection and National Gallery of Victoria.
Born in Argentina.
1999 BA, Comunicaciones Sociales, Unversidad Kennedy, Argentina
2000 MA, Direccion de Arte Asociacion Argentina de Agencias de Publicidad (AAAP), Buenos Aires, Argentina
Art History Kennedy Universy, Argentina
Born in Malaysia in 1973, Shooshie Sulaiman is currently recognized as one of the most important contemporary artists of Southeast Asia. Of both Malay and Chinese origin, the history of Southeast Asia, the culture of her homeland of Malaysia, as well as her personal memories and her own identity, serve as significant themes within her work. An almost mystical air permeates Sulaiman’s oeuvre, with works produced through diverse approaches such as drawings, collages, installations, and performances that at times appropriate natural elements from trees, soil, to water that are native to the land. Through them, the works inform viewers of the complex and inextricably connected relationship between human beings, nature, and art.
She has presented in many important international exhibitions including Documenta 12 (2007), Asia-Pacific Triennial (2009- 10), Singapore Biennale (2011), and Gwangju Biennale (2014). Following the Art Unlimited section at Art Basel in 2014, she has presented a large scale installation at the Encounter section at Art Basel Honk Kong curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor in 2015. The recent solo exhibitions include “Malay Mawar” at Kadist Art Foundation, Paris in 2016 and “Shooshie Sulaiman Drawings” at 8/ ART GALLERY/ Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo in 2018. Her work is collected by Kadist Foundation, Paris, Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
Satoko Nachi was born in 1982 in Tokyo. She graduated from the Fine Art Department of Nagoya University of Arts. She currently lives and works in Aichi. She held 3rd solo exhibition with Tomio Koyama Gallery, after one in Tokyo in 2010 and in Singapore in 2013. Her major group exhibitions include “Takahashi Collection 2014 Mindfulness!” (Nagoya City Art Museum, 2013), “JAPANCONGO” (Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, 2011), “Children’s Art in Mie” (Mie Prefectural Art Museum, 2011), “Passion Fruits Picked from The Olbricht Collection”（me Collectors Room Berlin, Berlin, 2010, and “FLOWERS AND LANDSCAPE, Claude Monet and Young Japanese Artists” (Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto, 2009). Her work created during her stay at the Ohara Museum’s ARCO project (as Artist in Residence in Kurashiki, Ohara) is being presented at the Ohara Museum from September 27th to November 27th 2016.
1982 Born in Tokyo
2005 BFA Nagoya University of Arts, Nagoya, Aichi
Lives in Nagoya, Aichi