76 Grand Street
Deitch Projects presented After the Reality, a exhibition featuring some of the most exciting new artists from Japan, curated by gallerist Hiromi Yoshii. The exhibition included five artists and the art collective Enlightenment, all of whom were involved in portraying what could be described as a post-reality world. Fantasy and reality, fears and emotions, were presented amidst an optimistic embrace of life and a foreboding of death.
When asked about the original meaning of his work, Yoshitaka Azuma, born in Osaka, in 1977, began by explaining that he was brought up in an “extremely normal” environment. He saw his paintings as an abstract mirror of himself and painted as a way to pursue this self-exploration. Though most of his paintings were of women, he saw them all as a kind of self-portrait. He aspired to achieve a sense of chaos in the paintings, explaining that one did not know where to focus while looking at the works, and this search paralleled the artist’s own search for himself therein.
Koichi Enomoto, also born in Osaka in 1977, began painting while studying industrial metal arts and became especially interested in the patterns of metal work. His work was an exploration of the extreme power of nature over man. His largest painting in the exhibition portrayed an urban environment upended by an earthquake. He explained that the power to dismantle was all around us. Other paintings in the exhibition juxtaposed forest fires and rainbows. Geometric structures in the work drew on origami, traditional forms of Japanese textiles, and samurai armor. Enomoto always painted the sides of his paintings with upward-slanting stripes, as he said he wanted his paintings to be free from gravity.
The video works of Taro Izumi, born in Nara in 1976, were based on his awkward otaku world. The artist explained that he felt weak in his social environment and he wanted people with the same feeling to see through his art that they were also a legitimate part of society. He hoped that people who shared this feeling of weakness or displacement would find relief through his artwork. In Lime Lake, created for the exhibition, the imagery was based on the artist’s lack of self-esteem and was described as a personal problem project. He said he was not satisfied in his daily life, and in this video killed himself repeatedly by slapping his hand at his own image as he would swat to kill a fly.
Soishiro Matsubara was born on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido in 1980 and the rural environment of his childhood converged with the cultural mélange of Tokyo where he studied and now lives. Thorny vines and pink intestines weaved through his symmetrically oriented works on paper as supernatural beings appeared and disappeared from what he saw as other dimensions of experience. The sculpture titled Antenna was viewed as a lightning rod capturing natural and urban energies. His large wall paintings and works on paper were largely spontaneous creations: organic rather than architectural, and often site-specific.
Aya Ohki, born 1983 in Fukuoka, studied at Tama Art University as did Matsubara and Izumi, and shared a feeling of spirituality based in natural forces. Predominately working in the medium of video animation, she presented a video sculpture in this exhibition. Her pieces were whimsical, combining handmade drawings and watercolors that she scanned and animated with minimal diegetic sounds that infused an animistic spirituality.
Enlightenment, directed by Hiro Sugiyama, developed into a unique artistic concept that blurred the boundary between commercial and fine art. Enlightenment created some of the most innovative illustration and graphic design in Japan, as well as some of the strongest new art. In addition to Sugiyama, the other members of the group were Akiyoshi Mishima, Shigeru Suzuki, and Kaname Yamaguchi. Each of the members had a particular area of expertise: Suzuki and Yamaguchi were former students of Sugiyama and skilled in computer graphics and digital painting, while Mishima was skilled in movie production. Sugiyama was the organizer and director, creating the conceptual framework of the work. Enlightenment was interested in the “between-space”-- not just the space between commercial and fine art, but the space between life and death, photography and painting, and the interstice between the real and the fantastical. They were interested in the supernatural and in powers that could not be rationally explained. The digitally painted mirrors featured in the exhibition they saw as entrances to another world.
A 52-page catalog designed by Enlightenment was published to accompany the exhibition. Towa Tei, the musician and DJ known for his chart-topping work with Deee-lite, presented a special performance after the opening along with video projections by Enlightenment.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
18 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Thursday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
+1 (212) 343-7300
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