Toru Kuwakubo started his career as a painter in a theatrical manner – inventing an imaginary painter within himself and creating paintings with thick layers of paint that remind us of the Impressionists – as a part of his performance as an idealized professional painter. Since then he has continued exploring the possibility of painting as a medium, by working with the richness of the materiality of paint and physicality of the painter. Narrative is an important element of Kuwakubo’s practice. He has written Telling of Sea, Telling of Painter, his self-published paperback, which contains short tales as well as his theory of art. The images that are flowing out from the narratives take forms on paintings, perhaps searching for continuing narratives and painting’s ability of conveying them.
The sea and its shore are significant and the most depicted motifs in Kuwakubo’s work. Stretching shoreline, the horizon, and the sound of waves suggest eternity, as well as humanity’s limits in the face of nature. For this exhibition, Kuwakubo has written a story on a beautiful summer day by the sea:
The sea was light blue, turning closer to turquoise approaching the horizon. In the distance whitecaps appeared, then disappeared. … It was a spectacle of the most radiant, beautiful sort. A scene that seemed to burn deep into my soul, in the way that light burns on negative film.
After a while, it struck me that this scene was of the fleeting kind I would never forget.
– Toru Kuwakubo, One wonderful day which cannot be forgotten
In his first solo exhibition in Singapore, Kuwakubo will present about 13 new paintings.
Toru Kuwakubo was born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1978. He graduated from the Department of Painting, Oil Painting Course at Tama Art University in 2002. He currently lives and works in Kanagawa.
Kuwakubo started his artistic practice with a theatrical approach, finding the figure of an imaginary painter within himself as a means to explore contemporary art through the medium of painting. His unique expressions created by a classical technique of layering thick oil paint to depict contemporary imagined sceneries reminiscent of the work of Van Gogh, have received acclaim both internationally and within Japan.
The “Calendar Series,” which he started producing in 2014, depicting the respective lives of great masters within art history upon a single canvas, was finally completed in 2020. In the “Calendar Series,” prominent painters selected by Kuwakubo, such as Munch, Van Gogh, and Modigliani, are each assigned a month in the calendar, and the works, studios, and lives of these artists are expressed as spectacular spaces of alternate dimension through manner of Kuwakubo’s own interpretation, serving as an ultimate homage that gives rise to a certain resonance that transcends both time and space.
He has held solo exhibitions in numerous locations throughout the world including New York, London, Copenhagen, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo. Major group exhibitions include “Site: Place of Memories, Spaces with Potential” (Hiroshima MOCA, Hiroshima, 2013), “Tokyo Painting II | Mindscape between interior and exterior” (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, 2013), “Artist File 2010: The NACT Annual Show of Contemporary Art” (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2010) and “Tokyo Wonder Wall” (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2003).
Kuwakubo won First Prize at the 3rd D-Art Biennale (2013), VOCA Encouragement Prize sponsored by The Ueno Royal Museum (2012), the 3rd Koji Kinutani Prize by the Mainichi Newspaper (2011) and the Tokyo Wonder Wall Award sponsored by Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2002).
His works are included in numerous public collections including JAPIGOZZI Collection, the DAI-ICHI LIFE Insurance Company, Ryutaro Takahashi Collection, Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Taguchi Art Collection and Toyota Art Collection.