On Mono, Koto and Body – Six Perspectives

Artist|Tomoaki Ishihara, Ken Kitano, Yoshio Kitayama, Natsuko Tanihara, Kimiyo Mishima, Yasumasa Morimura
Date|September 5 – October 4, 2020
Venue|MEM map
Hours|13:00–19:00, from Thursday to Sunday

【Requests to visitors】
• Please refrain from visiting the gallery if you have a fever or cold symptoms such as cough, sneeze, and a runny nose.
• Please practice good etiquette by wearing a mask, and disinfecting your hands. Visitors who do not wear masks will kindly be refused entry.
• Up to five people are allowed to visit exhibition at any one time.
• Please keep social distance from other visitors inside the gallery.
• Please do not touch the exhibits.

“Mono” (things) and “koto” (events) are said to be important concepts that shape our thoughts in Japanese. It is not too much to say that art is also formed with these two words. According to the dictionary, “mono” is “an object that occupies a certain part of space and has a form that can be perceived by the human senses” and “koto” is “a word referring to an object of thought or consciousness, or abstract phenomena, actions or properties”. In Japanese, different characters can be applied, such as 物 (object) or 者 (person) for mono, and 事 (event) or 言 (word) for koto, associating various definitions that lead to a deep forest of contemplation.

By adding the word “body” to this collection, a new picture appears like a growing tree. Works are woven by going back and forth between “mono” and “koto”. Drifting among them is “body”. We will attempt to reveal the works with these words as clues.

Kimiyo Mishima started her career in the 1950s as a painter, and began making three-dimensional works in the 1970s, using ceramic materials, after adapting collages of magazines and newspapers into her oil paintings. Most of her works are ceramic sculptures that elaborately imitate daily disposable objects, such as newspapers, comic magazines and food packages. It is a method of using “mono”, like ceramics, to mimic “koto”, the disposable information like that in newspapers.

The work, Cosmic Diagram, by Yoshio Kitayama is drawn in ink on Japanese paper. Without a rough sketch, Kitayama took a long time to finish this over 2-meter long painting following only his consciousness. He says that each tiny circle, dot and line represent the molecules and atoms that form this universe and the cells that make up our bodies.

Tomoaki Ishihara gained momentum in the 1980s for his multi-modal approach that included photography and installation. He has created three-dimensional works using photography to print his own body onto a shaped canvas, and in recent works, partially digitized the bodies and transformed them into a painting.

Yasumasa Morimura first gained worldwide attention in the 1980s for his method of placing himself into masterpieces. Since then, he has continually presented works of photographs and videos that record his performances. This exhibition presents a selection from A story of M’s self portraits, a photo collection with a private vibe, mainly taken in his studio during the 1990s.

Ken Kitano’s Flow and Fusion was taken at the height of the bubble economy. Shot at a slow shutter speed, it shows a crowd of people who appear to be connected like a single cloud. When Kitano first saw this image, he realized his own body was just another particle of the cloud.

In the 2010s, Natsuko Tanihara began to produce elaborate works depicting dark stories that transcend time and space. The artist often appears in her paintings, becoming part of the otherworldly narratives, as if she travels between this world and the other through her pictorial space.