Bright Days

福音 Gospel 2014 acrylic on canvas 145.5 × 145.5 cm ©Masahiko Kuwahara

Kuwahara was born in 1959 in Tokyo, and started presenting his work in the 1980s. His work seems to embrace the distortion and darkness of Japan’s high economic growth period, when he was growing up. A pig, half of the body of which has turned to ham; glittering imported, crude copy products, strange waterside creatures who are contaminated by factory sewage – they are depicted repeatedly with smooth flat brushstrokes. It seemed precisely as if his work were raising awareness of social problems, revealing the guilty conscience or shame of post-war Japanese society.
Since the mid-90s, however, Kuwahara’s work has moved away from such a social discourse, and his gaze started focusing on more private and internal aspects. Motifs of flowers, jellyfish, or dolls float in a milky-white plane, where specific temperature, languid warmness are drifting. When he started depicting nameless girls who are consumed on magazines and advertisements, sticky weights seen in his work was replaced by lightness. In his recent bright works, a feeling of desolation is accompanied by idiosyncratic happiness, and the girl figures resemble the Madonna. This exhibition will feature new and recent works produced since his solo show in 2012.

Since his first solo exhibition “Abandoned Child” in 1997, Masahiko Kuwahara has held eight exhibitions – “View”, “Life and Pus”, “Land Development”, “In the End of Summer”, “Window”, “Sweet and Desserts” and “Only in Dreams” at Tomio Koyama Gallery. Other major exhibitions include “TOKYO POP” (1996, Hiratsuka Museum of Art), “The Japanese Experience – Inevitable” (2002, Ursula Blickle Stiftung, Kraichtal, traveled to Museum der Moderne, Salzburg), “POPjack: Warhol to Murakami” (2002, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver), “Japan Pop” (2005, Helsinki City Art Museum), and “Portrait Session” (2007, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art).

Artist Profile

Masahiko Kuwahara

Masahiko Kuwahara started exhibiting his work in the 1980s. He has 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 depicts 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.

Born in Tokyo in 1959. He has held nine 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), and “Bright Days” (2015). He has also hold 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).