Satoshi Ohno has often transformed the whole exhibition spaces with installations, including large paintings of several meters wide, sand drawings on the floor, or wall paintings. His main motifs are self-portrait, primeval forest depicted with strong brush strokes, and the prism that consists of the artificial fluorescent colors composed in abstract forms. In fact, these seemingly distinct motifs reflect the common themes: life and death, darkness and light, and nature and art.
During the Koshikijima Art Project in 2004, Ohno actually lived in a subtropical island in Kagoshima. He has also visited the primeval forest in Hokkaido and Cayman Island in Caribbean sea for the exhibitions. Ohno spoke about the experiences as follows: “for me, primeval forest is composed of half alive and half dead. It also makes me feel motherhood.”
Since Ohno moved his base to Fuji-yoshida at the foot of Mt. Fuji, these vivid memories of the experiences deepened his interpretation and have been crystallized into the concrete concepts. In the primeval forest where there is a natural cycle of life and death, the ego of human sharpened and resulted in the landscape with a self-portrait by rough brushstrokes. David Elliott, the former director of Mori Art Museum, saw colors of Shintoism or Esoteric Buddhism in Ohno’s awe of the nature, as well as senses akin to the artists of the Neo-Expressionism such as Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer. Also, Hiroyuki Nakanishi, a curator of The National Museum of Art, Osaka, described Ohno as“one of the few painters in Japan capable of deftly manipulating the vocabulary of Western painting” (quoted from an exhibition catalogue of “Real Japanesque”, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2012).
Ohno mentions about the motif of prism as follows:
“One night I saw moths flying into a street lamp, where they were eaten one after another by a gecko waiting there. The nature of phototaxis – they fly to the lamp even though there is clear “death” in the light in front of them, gave me a sense of indescribable ephemerality, and I started feeling that the human society had a similar scenery.”
In Ohno’s eyes, the moths flying into the light overlapped with today’s human society that is drawn in the richness and materialistic beauty. The motif of light arises from his own experience and the cityscape of “the accumulation of the loud halation”, which Ohno has been familiar since childhood, have evolved into the series of “Prism”. What is seen in the“Prism”series, where the fluorescent colors collide uneasily, is the completely artificial beauty, also based on the scientific research on the light. It also shows the artist’s attitude of trying to understand the world more structurally.
This exhibition solely consists of paintings, mainly featuring “Prism”, a large elliptical shaped work of 7 meters wide. Ohno asks, “what kind of impact does the light present in front of me, if I could see it through the eyes of a moth?” The paintings of neon colors embrace “frivolity” as intended by the artist, and approach the present day since postmodernism that we all live in.
Being in front of large “Prism” that is beyond the scale of human body, we become smaller and start being conscious of ourselves in the silver background, where a illusion of wandering into his work may be experienced. By being exhibited in the space, Ohno’s works acquire more narrative. An independent curator Kenji Kubota remarked, “It acts like a mirrir, reflecting everything around it, and functions like a ceremonial object, giving direct knowledge of things in the world in which we, the viewers of the artwork, live.”（Quoted from an exhibition catalogue of “VOCA 2010”, The Ueno Royal Museum, 2010）.
What kind of scenery will be seen in the mirror-like space of“Prism”presented by Ohno?