KANEKO Tomiyuki "Apotropaic Deities"（TOKYO）
22 November - 23 December 2023
Mizuma Art Gallery is proud to present its latest exhibition, “Apotropaic Deities” by KANEKO Tomiyuki, on display from the 22nd of November 2023.
Kaneko Tomiyuki focuses on deities, spirits, and yokai, continuing to materialize spiritual beings that cannot be seen with the naked eye, working from his base in Yamagata. In 2015, through the Program of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artists organized by the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, Kaneko had the opportunity to visit Cambodia’s Siem Reap region, best known for its Angkor Wat temples. There, he encountered the visual arts of Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, and animist traditions, inspiring him to amass a number of sketches and other works.
In May of this year, Kaneko held a long-term solo exhibition including ceiling paintings at Hitachinokuni Izumotaisha shrine in Kasama, Ibaraki Prefecture, and, in June, was part of a two-person exhibition held at the Akino Fuku Art Museum in Hamamatsu City themed around Asian deities. In December, he has plans for a solo exhibition on dragons and snakes at Nihombashi Takashimaya 6th Floor Art Gallery X, continuing to actively produce and showcase his works.
Worshipped in China and India since ancient times, the virtuous deities found in Hekija-e (“Extermination of Evil”), a set of five paintings, are often seen warding off plague demons. Now a national treasure housed at the Nara National Museum, Hekija-e renders the powerful gods Tenkeisei, the god of heavenly punishment; Sendan Kendatsuba, one of the eight guardians of Buddhist law; Shinchū, a divine insect; Shōki, protector of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang; and Bishamonten, the chief of the four heavenly kings, banishing evil. In his 2021 solo exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery, “Apotropaic Tiger”, Kaneko concentrated on depicting the tiger as a divine messenger of Bishamonten.
In this exhibition, the imposing presence of protective deities will serve as a focal point, with its central pieces consisting of three large artworks, each measuring 460 x 480 cm: “Gozu Tenno”, “Great Divine Locust”, and “Great Tiger: Long-Lasting Fortune in Battle”. These pieces are interpreted uniquely by the artist and displayed alongside various other Hekija-e. When you confront these incredibly ferocious artworks, you may find that they trigger an internal response, perhaps even sparking a sense of inner awakening or transformation. We invite you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience Kaneko’s tempestuous creations for yourself.