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Group Exhibition curated by O JUN "World of Bliss and Misery : Dat + ISHII Yuuka + YAMAWAKI Kosuke + O JUN"(TOKYO)

10 April - 18 May 2024

Mizuma Art Gallery is pleased to present “World of Bliss and Misery : ISHII Yuuka, YAMAWAKI Kousuke, Dat and O JUN,” commencing on the 10th of April, 2024.


This exhibition is an unusual group exhibition featuring three painters and one break dancer. The three painters are both mentor and disciple, and they have been actively engaged in their respective artistic practices, earnestly confronting the medium of “painting”. On the other hand, the break dancer Dat, has explored alternative forms of expression, with the body itself as his medium.


We invite you to experience their interpretation of a ” World of Bliss and Misery ” within the space of the gallery.


 


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World of Bliss and Misery


 


Last fall, I was asked by the gallery to curate a group exhibition. I thought it was going to be a show of young artists, but as they asked me to throw in my own work as well, the lineup eventually looked like this: ISHII Yuuka, YAMAWAKI Kousuke, Dat, and myself. That’s three painters and one breakdancer, an artist called Dat. The four of us will show works at Mizuma’s exhibition space.


 


That Ishii Yuuka’s paintings look somehow familiar, is due to the elements that she is borrowing from European classical paintings, such as animals, background landscapes, decorative patterns, musical notation, or pictures within pictures. Multiple images are combined or juxtaposed within one canvas, whereas the connections between them cause the individual images to be suddenly interrupted and their original meanings to be suspended. Such kind of picture composition, however, is a contemporary and commonplace kind of technique whenever the idea is to rearrange certain images. What is interesting here is that, even though the joints between the different elements on the canvas create boundaries in terms of coloration and brushwork, they seem to go together well to make up larger sceneries quite naturally. As if being sewn up immediately, the gaps and discordances that result from combining multiple images on one canvas, are covered and hidden underneath a newly emerging layer. When looking at Ishii’s paintings, what I see is not discomfort or dissonance, but a strange kind of integrity and reinvigorating capacity. They look idyllic, yet retain the power to translate things we once knew but have forgotten, into new visual sensations.  


 


Yamawaki Kousuke paints frontal views of animals’ faces. Filling out more or less the entire canvases, the fur is painted as if caressing layer upon layer, and appears in hues comparable to those of an oil film on a wet street, while the eyes are two light spots on the same level on both sides of the head. Even though each of them – be it a wolf, a goat or a bird – is painted to be recognizable as what it is, they all look equally unnatural. A painter’s technique and style, defined through a mixture of his or her feelings, ideas and actions, can be realized by way of reproducible, personified or reflective images, and the fact that such artificial and unnatural reflections and expressions also exist and work within “human” nature, is what the eyes of the animals in Yamawaki’s paintings are gazing at. I remember how I once stood in front of a painting of a goat’s head at his exhibition, and I somehow didn’t feel comfortable as I kept looking at it. It seemed to me as if the goat wasn’t looking at me, but it was looking through me. When I turned around, I noticed that there was a painting of another animal on the wall behind me. Caught in an infinity mirror of sorts and pierced by the eyes on both sides, I was unable to stay there long and therefore left the exhibition rather soon. This was probably the rare experience of someone who stepped into the trap that had been set up between the paintings and the viewer.


 


The idea behind this time’s exhibition was that it was going to featured paintings in combination with other media. I thought about sculptures and installations at first, but that somehow didn’t feel right. Then, at some point, it suddenly occurred to me that breakdance was the right thing to include, and that instant flash of inspiration prompted me to brush aside all the various other ideas that had been on the table at the time. When seeking advice from Daichi Shimizu, a researcher in the field of cognitive science, he introduced me to Dat as a fitting artist for the show. Shimizu is doing breakdance himself, and Dat is one of his dance mates, while at the same time also being a subject of Shimizu’s long-term observation and research. I eventually got in touch with Dat, to ask him to join the exhibition, albeit not as a dancer who performs at some kind of event, but as an artist who participates in an art exhibition. I first watched a video of him dancing, and that was in a rather small room with an everyday life kind of feel, to music that didn’t really sound like music one would normally breakdance to. Regardless of my lack of experience with breakdance, which doesn’t qualify me to draw comparisons with others, Dat’s dance moves looked somewhat odd and peculiar. He is at once an artist who talks a lot, and in a very tactile, visual way, about his own dance and the way he uses his body. And even though what he says is not particularly powerful, there is something like “barbs” on his words that make them hard to get rid of once they are stuck in the listener. It’s like being asked back, “So what about you?”


He laughingly told me that his body was rather inflexible to begin with. Wait a minute… Wasn’t he a dancer? What is it that he is seeing while he dances? Is it the floor that he crawls around on during his entire performance? Or is it the sky, whenever half of his body faces upwards? We the audience probably won’t even notice either of them, as we just focus on his rhythmically shaking movements.


It appears to me that there is a fundamental difference between Dat and the B-Boys that are going to compete at the Paris Olympics this summer, where breakdance will be an official discipline.


 


Myself, I am planning to exhibit a total of four paintings, including new and older ones.


With these paintings that I make/made, I am going to mess with these three guys like a nasty old crook.


 


Regarding the exhibition title…


 


World – Bliss – Misery


 


You probably get the idea that this is very much reflecting the environment that we live in right now. At the same time, it also describes the current situation of the four featured artists and their creative work.


I approached this with the desire to present a mixture of people and things, animate and inanimate, active and passive, that each bring something different to the table. The result is a show that I would like you to see!


O JUN