Culture

  • HERE + NOW at Pablo’s Birthday

    One of my pieces is in a group show at Pablo’s Birthday, NYC.  Please read what the show is all about below.

    #53, 2005-08, ENAMEL, OIL, PLASTER, TAR AND WAX, 96 DIAMETER X 37 CM, 38 DIAMETER X 14.5 IN

    From Pablo’s Birthday and OFFICE IMPART:

    “Press release

    HERE + NOW

    Exhibition dates: June 26th – July 3rd, 2019

    Press preview: Wednesday, June 26th, 5-7pm

    Opening reception: Thursday, June 27th, 6-9pm

    Pablo’s Birthday and OFFICE IMPART are pleased to present “HERE+NOW”, a 7-day exhibition project which aims to raise awareness about how today’s digital age is changing the traditional art gallery model with the increase of online platforms or other examples of digital presence within the arts.

    Following a conviction in the necessity to create new collaborative models, a selection of the most distinguished online art platforms currently operating in the market have been invited to showcase their artists at Pablo’s Birthday gallery space.

    Participating platforms: Daily Collector, Isthisit?, This Ain’t Art School, ARTPIQ, hiato projects, AXS Art, Freud Monk Gallery will present compelling works as well as a selection of events which will revolve around this topic, “the new digital era”. We are pleased to announce ARTLAND, Daily Plinth and New Art Academy as our media partners. ARTLAND will create and provide a virtual 3D tour of the exhibition, Daily Plinth will showcase a selection of video vignettes from the project, and New Art Academy will include the digital art exhibited in their newborn marketplace for digital art.

    Full list of participant platforms and artists includes: ISTHISIT?,  Stine Deja (London, UK)  and Joshua Citarella (New York, US); Daily Collector, Jenny Brosinski (Berlin, Germany) and Jonathan Todryk (Dallas, US); ARTPIQ, Sooyoung Chung (Seoul, South Korea) and Ant Hamlyn (Northampton, UK);  hiato projects, Paul Weiner (Denver, US) and Irati Inoriza (Balmaseda, Spain), THIS AIN´T ART SCHOOL, Anna Ehrenstein (Tirana, Berlin) and Tara Wray (Kansas, US); AXSART, Tahnee Lonsdale (West Sussex, UK) and Lisette van Hoogenhuyze (The Hague, Netherlands); Freud Monk Gallery, Johan Deckmann (Copenhagen, Denmark)  and Hiroyuki Hamada (New York, US); OFFICE IMPART, Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg (Berlin, Germany) and Tristan Schulze (Leipzig, Germany); and PABLO’S BIRTHDAY with Carla Gannis (Oxford, US) and Liz Naiden (New York, US).

    Recently new innovative models have arisen that look on how to mediate art today. It is a reaction to the changing society due to new technologies, more possibilities, and a broader visual art market. The art scene opens up and is trying to reach a wider audience. The next generation is eager to try out new, more contemporary solutions that are fun, in demand for different formats and other means to present art.

    We are interested in the diversity that new mediums present for showing art, through online galleries, pop-ups, social media based platforms exposing and gathering artists, and young emerging galleries that are vivid, hybrid and engage in this new online-based trend.

    How do these different models work, what are their aims, what drives them? This is what we want to ask. How do these new models change and adapt to the art world? What happens with the reception of art? How and where to reach an audience in the digital era?

    We believe in collaboration and want to group these new ways and create a vibrant exchange by opening a space for it. For one week a group show will develop with a range of diverse players and will be completed by a dynamic program of discussions, performance, and thematization of these changes in the art world.”

    You can see images of the pieces in the show at Pablo’s Birthday website.

  • Full Moon View at The Arts Center at Duck Creek

    Friends,
    My painting show at The Arts Center at Duck Creek will be open until 9pm on the next full moon night, June 17th—rain or shine. Bring your friends and family and watch as the dark blue night transforms the warm glow of the historic barn.

    Hot tea and sweets will be served.

    11-9pm on Monday, June 17, 2019

    Regular hour: 11-6pm, Thursday-Monday and by appointment through June 23rd 2019

  • Images from The Arts Center at Duck Creek Show

    Here are some images from my painting show at The Arts Center at Duck Creek.

    The show is open Thursday-Monday, 11-6pm or by appointment, until June 23rd, 2019.

    There are no photos with those IDs or post 6320 does not have any attached images!
  • Freud Monk Gallery Interview

    by Adam Reid Fox

    March 18, 2019

    To begin, could you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

    I grew up in Japan till I was 18. My family came to the States in the late 80s because of my father’s job. So I’ve been exposed to different sets of values, beliefs and norms from two different countries. This has been very helpful in constructing my world view from my own perspective as well as steering my path into my studio practice in art.

    Describe your journey to becoming, (or identifying as) an artist. Has it been easy? Natural? What has been difficult?

    When I went to college my initial interest was in psychology. I think I wanted to find out who we are as a species after learning that prevalent angles in one culture are not necessarily valid in others. Then I took some elective courses in art and one of the art teachers, Karl Jacobson, showed me how visual language can let us speak to each other despite our cultural boundaries. This really shocked me and moved me. It was profound and surprising. I eventually changed my major and started to spend all my time in making art. Looking back it was perhaps natural in a way since as a child I was always making things and drawing. But I really didn’t grow up with art and becoming an artist was not something I would do. I think being displaced and being forced to reexamine my identity somehow freed me in that regard.

    How would you describe your work to someone?

    I describe materials, physical attributes and so on a little, and I usually end up saying that you have to see it. I like an element of the unknown to play a good part in the work so it is difficult to verbalize it.

    What is important for viewers to note when viewing your work?

    I would like them to know that all viewers are invited to appreciate my work. I understand that we don’t share the same background and we have different ways of perceiving things. And I would like to know what they think of them and how they feel about them.

    What is your process like? How important is process in understanding your work?

    The core process seems to be brainstorming through drawing. Basic ideas emerge from it. Some of them become sculptures and others become prints. Paintings follow a different process. I usually go right in without preconceived ideas. I rely on visual elements appearing on the surface to guide the overall dynamics. It can be a very thrilling process with surprises and dramas, and it can also be very meditative and liberating. And all my work, including sculptures and prints, involve this process of examining dynamics within the work—I want all elements to play necessary rolls to compose the profound wholeness.

    I like hearing about artists’ process, but other than that, I don’t know if knowing the process would facilitate the understanding… Also, the process is hardly formulated…it’s very bumpy and often tortuously long and frustrating. But sometimes it goes very smooth. Come to think of it, there might be some keys in understanding the particular work in its particular process…

    But basically making process to me is about observing and letting the elements speak as they form relationships among themselves. So any preconceived formula, rule and so on can be very much hazardous, as much as instructive, as they can get in the way of new discoveries.

    I’m interested to know how you arrived at your choice of process, materials, and ‘style?’ How did this develop?

    Those things are developed by the path of my studio practice. One thing leads to another, I digest the process, and it gives birth to more paths and options, and after awhile I have ended up with a trajectory with certain materials, process and “style”. It all happens in an intermingling dynamic of various elements though. It’s hard to pin point a cause and the effect when I’m in the middle of processing multiple phenomenons on multiple dimensions. A lot of things happen intuitively. I do stop and contemplate here and there, but after all it seems that those things are determined by the works themselves.

    What does your work aim to say?

    Each piece is different so I can’t generalize too much, but I’m very much fascinated by the mode of communication through arts. I think a successful art work allows us to convey a genuine experience without truncating details when it takes us over and flourishes in our hearts. You can live a moment with its infinite connection to ourselves and our environment. And sometimes you can share the experience with others too. I think this is particularly meaningful in a highly authoritarian society, like ours, that systematically and structurally truncates our connections to self, others, matters and environment by limiting them to quantifiable commodities. It is extraordinary that such a trajectory has deprived us of our ability to sense the risks of environmental destruction, nuclear threat and so on. But art can somehow give us a common ground to stand on. I don’t claim this to solve anything, give us a revelation of our time or anything like that, but it is still a profound fact that we have this gift of our life that defies certain obstacles among us for a moment.

    Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how they have impacted your work?

    I’m sure I get influenced by other artists’ paths here and there, but overwhelmingly, it is my own path in my studio that affects the work the most. I usually have a few pieces in progress so they sort of feed each other in terms of directions, methods and so on. Also, making prints might do something to sculpture making, while sculptures might affect the paintings and so on. It’s all fluid, organic and dialectic.

    Where do you find inspiration?

    Again, things that happen in my studio get me going. It’s exciting to see mere shapes, lines, tones and so on suddenly find their voices and start making dynamics, flows, visual narratives and presences. When I get stuck I listen to music. I also have an electric guitar for releasing some tension and having fun. I also read and write. Actually, making art can be pretty tough, I get stuck quite often.

    In your experience, what is the best thing about being an artist? What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

    There are moments when you forget about everything and you just appreciate the time you spend making the work. And there are even more special moments when you literally melt with the experience of having your work culminate into a finished work. You lose sense of time and space and be one with the experience. Such times are so special that I feel just happy doing what I do in my studio.

    The tough part is that I am aware of what art can be and I struggle with what I can do with art as I look at things outside of my studio with my artist’s eyes. I connect dots and I try to make sense out of events, facts and contexts just as I do in my studio with visual elements. I see that our era is not a time of “democracy”, “freedom”, “humanity” and so on. Awful things are done in the name of those things.

    If you were not an artist, what would you be?

    I really can’t imagine…

    What piece of advice would you give to a young artist?

    The World is huge. Much bigger than the tiny cage old people call “country”, “society”, “culture” and so on. We the artists know the infinite universe of true liberation. Tell people stories about freedom, what it is to be humans, try not to build cages for the people.

    Interview at Freud Monk Gallery

    Wall Sculptures at Freud Monk Gallery

  • 1500 Rakan Statues of Mount Nokogiri

    In Art, Culture, empire, imperialism, Sculpture on

    People sometimes ask me what religion Japanese people practice.  I usually end up saying that Japanese people aren’t very religious at all.  But paradoxically, if you go to Japan, you encounter huge shrines at tourists’ spots and there are numerous smaller ones across the country in many forms.  You visit a Japanese household, you might also find a shrine, a box shaped prayer spot, called butsudan.

    There certainly are indications that Japanese society is bound together, to a certain extent, with beliefs, values and norms deriving from variations of Buddhism and Shintoism.

    To me, who grew up in Japan, it is natural to perceive such a traditional framework as a cohesive layer that can be loosely described as sort of “religious”.  It guides traditional ceremonies and rituals of life, death and spiritual, and it contributes to world views of the Japanese people in varying degrees.

    However, it should also be noted that this framework really does not address fundamental existential questions for the Japanese people today.  In other words, people would go along with the customary rituals as long as they facilitate their social interactions and obligations, however, as soon as they impede their material necessity, they can be set aside.  Japanese society is extremely secular and the grip of the socioeconomic hierarchy over its people is very firm.  After all, Japan has played a crucial role as an economic power in the western hegemony for generations after it was incorporated into the order of the American empire.

    Our trip to Mount Nokogiri, however, has shown me how the abstract notion of traditional Japan has many layers that are deeply conflicting and it has had tumultuous aspects as we examine it in historical contexts.

    Mount Nokogiri is located in Boso Peninsula, Chiba.  As you can see on a map it is relatively close to Tokyo.  My wife and I visited the area once before we had our kids.  I loved seeing rakan statues (stone carved arhat statues) along the path during our hike.  To me they appeared as expressions of lives emanating from the area which had been regarded as sacred for many centuries.

    This time, we decided to stay for a couple of nights at a nearby seaside city, Tateyama.  The inn we picked had a nice view of the water and hot spring baths.  Since my mother couldn’t take the mountain hike, I wanted her stay to be nice as well.  It was a few rustic train stops away to Mount Nokogiri.

    I really liked riding the rural trains in the area.  Going a few hours south from Yachiyo city into the Peninsula made the scenery much greener and it was fascinating to observe a glimpse of country life as we passed fields cultivated with various crops, a house sitting among trees without a discernible way to get there, huge hawks flying over us and the water visibly getting cleaner as we got closer to our destination.  

    The hike was magnificently wonderful.  It was a bit strenuous for me, with numerous steps. But I’ve never felt a physical exercise to be so refreshing, so invigorating and so satisfying (in fact, it inspired me to start exercising again when I came back to the States).  

    My son found a Tamamushi (jewel beetle).

     

    Nokogiri means saw blade. The jagged appearance of the mountain stems from its history being a prominent stone quarry.

     

    30 meter tall stone carved Buddhist goddess.

     

    A Stone observatory called “Hell Peek” sticks out into the air. Terrifying.

     

    Mount Nokogiri is also a home for the largest stone carved Buddha in Japan (31 meter tall).

     

    I took many pictures of the small statues as we walked.  If you look at the statues carefully, you will notice that the necks of them have traces of reattachment.  Those statues were all violently destroyed once during the haibutsukishaku movement.  As the rule of the Tokugawa shogun family ended in 1868, the new government, aspiring to be one of the imperial powers of the time, embarked on drastic reforms.  One of them was a separation of Buddhism and Shintoism.  Shintoism was elevated as a national religion while Buddhism was regarded as a part of the old power.  There was a strong momentum to see the power of Buddhist entities as an abusive and corrupt part of the past.  The accounts from the time certainly indicate that the deeds of the Buddhist class did reflect such descriptions.  The result was an emergence of a large scale destructive movement across the country against anything Buddhist.  As to Shintoism, it eventually ended up as the backbone of imperial Japan, propping up the Japanese emperor as a living god, prompting a direct collision with the US imperial plan over the hegemonic rule of Asia.  The inhumane momentum of destruction and atrocity took many lives in Asian countries.  In the name of the living god the Japanese colonizers sent young lives as suicide bombers.  The colonizers of the US dropped nuclear bombs on two cities full of people in order to declare its hegemonic superiority against enemies and allies alike.

    Today the Buddihist legacy in the Mount Nokogiri area is regarded as a significant cultural asset.  The beautiful trails are well maintained, so are the shrines and statues for many visitors.  It was breathtaking to encounter spectacular views throughout our walk.  The weight of the historical layers also compounded the profound orchestration of the natural elements. The moss covered expressions of the aged statues–sad, tormented, resigned, angered, struggling, peaceful and fulfilled–were voices from the past beautifully sublimated within the harmony of nature and people.

    As we were waiting for our bus back home, a man at a tiny local restaurant insisted that we take a look at an underground imperial Japanese fortress in Tateyama.  Although we couldn’t extend our trip for it, according to him, a mile-long tunnel dug during WW2  is something you must not miss if you were in the area.  He also mentioned that the entire Mount Nokogiri was a huge military fortress during the war.  To the imperial Japan,  the area, situated at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, was the last defense on the ground protecting Tokyo against the invading US forces.

    Famed sculptor Isamu Noguchi said that time can heal stones in describing his stone carving process.  Time can certainly give us a thrust of objectivity while natural elements can provide a layer of harmony, presenting a new way to understand what unfolds before us.  Mount Nokogiri certainly stood as a sacred ground before me.  The overwhelming sense of awe generously erased the scars of human atrocity.

    However, it has also made me aware of myself as a captive of our time.  Tateyama’s imperial Japanese base is now a base for the Japanese self-defense force.  The corporate media is eerily silent about the fortification of islands around Okinawa, which lies at the tip of the archipelago and houses an American military base. Japanese regulations have been changed to allow a Japanese “self-defense force,” ostensibly to operate as a part of the western force against China.  Those shifts coincide with the US pacific policy to counter China as an emerging economic power. And more urgently, I couldn’t help being reminded of inhumane atrocities of our time–bombing campaign against people, suicide bombing, underground fortress, destruction of environment and cultural heritage and so on and so forth are all elements emerging from the western colonial wars being waged against the Middle East and elsewhere today.

    Have we learned anything from the past?  Our ability to see our history and events embedded in it, weaving the flow of time and space, as a unified front, as a collective part of our identity, allow us to tolerate pains of atrocity, allow us to reconcile, allow us to rebuild and allow us to be.  But we do know that the significant portions of the sufferings and deaths are endured by those who are powerless.  How could we allow ourselves to let the momentum of time swallow so many of our fellow humans?   Why are we tolerating colonial destabilization of “other people’s”?  How could we close our eyes as we encounter people sleeping on streets or losing their lives because they can’t afford to be healthy?  Why can’t we focus our hope for renewal for the people who have and will suffer the most?  How could we recognize the fact that our willingness to tolerate the hierarchy of money and violence, as the shape of our species, inflicts pain against “others” and against ourselves at the same time, forcing ourselves to expect nuclear missile attacks instead of reaching out for sharing and peace?

    Every time I hear people say that for things to get better, things have to get much worse, I think of what happened in Fukushima.  Three nuclear meltdowns have not woken up the people.  The nuclear industrial complex of Japan is firmly embedded within the war economy of the empire.

    This is not the time for conflict.  This is the time we need each other to see what has become of us.    Let there be braveness, determination and steadfastness in renouncing the cannibalistic momentum of self-destruction.  The sacred power of nature will always embrace us no matter how we will do.