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Tomoaki Ishihara “Extension / Mineral / Body”

Dates|November 26 – December 25, 2016
Open hours|12:00-20:00
Closed | Mondays [Tue. if the Mon. is a public holiday]
Tel | +81 (0)3-6459-3205

Opening Reception
Date &hour:November 26, 18:00-
Venue:MEM

[TALK EVENT] (in Japanese)
Guest:Gen Umezu (The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama), Tomoaki Ishihara
Date & hour:November 27, 16:00-
Venue:MEM
Admission:Free

The hair that fell from her invisible self hit the floor. Once it had left her body, it gradually lost its invisibility. As she gazed at that hair, now visible, dead, no longer a part of her, a dizziness seized her upended senses – a curious sensation that she was beholding her own living body that she had so longed to see.
Given: A Blind Man Meets an Invisible Woman at an Art Museum (1993 – ) Tomoaki Ishihara

In his previous exhibition The Invisibility of Hair that has Fallen from an Invisible Woman’s Head, Ishihara displayed self-portraits formed by scanning his own hairs and converting them into digital images. This exhibition is the sequel: its works show further variations and expansions on the concept.

Once hairs have fallen out and left the body, they all look the same – they are anonymous. At the same time, at a microscopic level, they can pinpoint one’s identity through DNA. If scanned and assigned numerical values, the hairs seem like single abstract lines, far removed from one’s body. At this point, Ishihara converts the scanned data into vector graphics: a format for creating an image in terms of a grouping of objects consisting of curves, straight lines and so on, used in software such as Adobe Illustrator. It is distinct from raster graphics, which are used in JPG images and the like. With the former, there is no loss in quality no matter how much you enlarge the image: the coordinate system is merely recalculated. In contrast, the latter is comprised of a fixed number of pixels, and therefore loses quality with resizing. Freed from a true-to-life scale (while keeping their precise shape), the vectorized hairs become all the more abstract. The very artist’s body, scaled up and freely depicted, is fixed to the canvas by blowing UV-cured resin onto it. Depending on the work, this process can be repeated multiple times, creating an even more complex pictorial space. “By giving new skin, new tissue [to my own body],” says Ishihara, “I am re-embodying it.” Incidentally, these two-dimensional oeuvres are titled textus (Latin for “tissue,” “texture,” “woven fabric”).

This time, minerals such as copper, aluminum, graphite and gypsum have been used for the primer painted onto the canvas, giving off a stronger sense of materiality. In contrast to the previous series, which consisted of black lines on white, here the color of each mineral is used in the background and lines. Like last time, references are made to abstract expressionism, reflected in both the works and the curation.

This exhibition also features I.S.M.-corpus, sculptures with organic forms. Like the two-dimensional works, these are based on Ishihara’s own body; they have the same structure as textus, in that they reassemble his body by converting it into digital data. Each block is constructed by stacking cross-sectional slices, a process that calls to mind the tomographic imaging techniques used in CT scans. Then finally, gofun (white pigment used in Japanese-style paintings, made from pulverized shells) is applied to the blocks, giving the works their particular texture. Since the 1990s Ishihara has been producing works that interrogate the very framework of modern sculpture and painting, which he has collectively named the I.S.M. series. This oeuvre joins its ranks.

Tomoaki Ishihara (1959–) studied at Kyoto City University of Arts. In the 1980s he was identified with the Kansai New Wave, a group of notable young artists from the Kansai region. In 1988 he participated in the Venice Biennale’s Aperto section, presenting an installation that centered on a work consisting of a self-portrait photograph printed onto a spindle-shaped canvas. In the 1990s he released, in quick succession, works that spanned different materials and media, including painting, photograph and sculpture. As well as Japan’s major galleries, his art has been shown in museums in the United States, Europe, Australia and South Korea. In 1998, the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts hosted his exhibition A Constellation of Work from 1983 to 1998; in 2004, the imaginary number opened at the Otani Memorial Art Museum, Nishinomiya City. His works are held at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Yokohama Museum of Art, National Museum of Art Osaka, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and elsewhere.