press release

The concept of time has a relative value in the Land of the Rising Sun. On Kawara has illustrated this to perfection in his daily Date Paintings which inscribe in real time a temporality that is nothing if not abstract, conceptual and cosmic. Since the Meiji Period (the Enlightenment) in 1868, the Occident has imposed upon the Japanese a linear time structure based on our Gregorian calendar, with the birth of Christ as the year zero, a point of reference with no meaning in Japanese culture. The Japanese have always had a cyclical consciousness of time, marked by imperial dynasties. The cycles of time in Japan have actually been getting shorter because, since the Meiji period, the year has been reset at zero at the death of each new emperor. The Showa Era ended in 1989 with the death of Hiro Hito. We are now in the fifteenth year of a new era, with the current emperor worried that his son has no descendant. The notion of recycled time is the heart and principle of this show. The choice of artists, who for the most part have been shown neither in New York or Japan, has been made with a view of creation that will prove atemporal. Michiro Tokushige is a young artist from Nagoya. Upon completing her studies in science, Tokushige joined up with a group of students in her home city of no real artistic tradition. Her work is simple and efficient, evoking forgotten traditional practices. Her Gardens resuscitate the ancestral technique of the borrowed garden. In the temples of Kyoto, certain gardens were designed in relation to their natural surroundings as the monks recreated the shapes of the horizon in miniature. Michiro Tokushige inverts this value system with facetious parody by constructing a landscape modeled on small popular ceramic objects: mountains, flowers, pagodas. Tatsuo Ishida, also from Nagoya, seems to prove that time has no claim on his work, or rather that our time is not his. Through the excavated quality of his drawings and his almost naïve models, he suggests a time where nature will reclaim her rights, slowly compressing urban landscapes, engulfing cities and swallowing houses. This is strange symbolism for a country where artificial islands push the limits of urbanization and every square meter is counted. Kazuyuki Takesaki reclaims for himself the tradition of the master print makers, like the poet Basho who made pilgrimage a rule of life. Hiroshige and Hokusai were famous at the end of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th for their famous series of Mount Fuji, the most exquisite Japanese bridges or vibrant Kabuki actors. Takezaki has conserved their notion of drawing as a trace of immediacy. He replaces Indian ink and color washes with pencil lines enhanced by a few colored signs. Subway stations and big screen advertisements substitute the ancient subjects of the old masters, but the desire to freeze everyday life in an instant remains as in an intimate journal. Tsyoshi Ozawa is the best known artist of his generation, to the point where he currently has a one-man show at Tokyos new Mori Museum. His art consists of inscribing his own irony into the tradition and art history of his country. He became known for placing small portrait galleries painted inside milk crates outside a well-heeled Ginza Gallery, famous for impressionists and Nabis. The title of this work was a pun on Nabisu (The gallery of the Nabis) and Nasubi, the eggplant so popular in Japanese cuisine. Since then, more than forty artists have shown in these small galleries. In our show, Ozawa produces pieces that would normally be done in Indian ink; instead, they are executed in soy sauce, a classic practice of master printmakers who refuse all outside cultural influence! Tatsuo Miyajima no longer needs an introduction. His installations of luminous diodes have been around the world. These diodes emit a string of numbers, which mark a time completely disconnected from our temporality of the seconds and minutes we live through. However, with this latest beautiful and troubling installation, classical and almost clinical, Miyama does something different. He puts forth a new version of the Vanity paintings of the 17th Century in which a soap bubble, an hourglass, or a fading rose reminded us of our human condition and of the ephemeral quality of our time on earth. The Death Clock invites you on an intimate voyage into your internal clock, provided you accept the knowledge of how much time you have left to live. Go ahead and agree to play this game, with a view to the fact that Japanese life cycles are made of eternal returns. Eric Mezil (Pressetext)

only in german


mit Tatsuo Ishida, Tatsuo Miyajima, Tsyoshi Ozawa, Kazuyuki Takesaki, Michiro Tokushige
Kurator: Eric Mezil