Tomoaki Ishihara |Flies and Frankenstein

Dates|December 4 – 29, 2021
Venue|MEM  map
Open Hours|13:00 – 19:00
The gallery is closed on Mondays that are not national holidays. (Except when Monday falls on a holiday, in which case the gallery is open and closed the following day.)


Over the years, Ishihara has used various materials and methods to make his ‘self-portraits.’ His works seem be an attempt to verify his own body while tracing the history of modern and contemporary art. In his solo exhibition Extension, Minerals and Me, held in 2016, Ishihara experimented with digitizing his own hair and reconstructing it as an abstract painting. He gave his digitized hair a new physical form on canvas, a separate physical form but also Ishihara himself. In the same exhibition, Ishihara 3D printed his own body, divided it up into parts, sliced those divisions, and three dimensionally reconstructed those slices. He titled it Corpus.

This exhibition, Flies and Frankenstein, is an expansion upon his previous Corpus project and shows his development over the past 5 years. In this new work, Ishihara 3D printed large-scale parts of his body and piled them together. This newly constructed physical form, just as the name of the exhibition implies, reminds us of the monster assembled from the body parts of the dead by the mad scientist Victor Frankenstein. As if they were swarming around that reanimated corpse, a photogram of dead flies is exhibited nearby. The pair can also be seen to be in conversation with Ectoplasm, his series of leather sculptures that are extensions of his body, which he has worked on since the 1990s. Those oddly shaped sculptures are made from the skin of dead animals. Ishihara has taken pictures of himself wearing them and presented them with instructions for use. Again, Ishihara points to the connection between life and death. Although all his works are colored with the imagery of bodies and death, Ishihara describes them as the residue of the aesthetic that contemporary art has established, the death of modernism. When these zombie-like works awaken with newly acquired forms, artistic horizons widen and lead us to a new future.

Born in Osaka in 1959. He graduated Kyoto City University of Arts. In the 1980s he garnered acclaim through his complex methods that included photos and installations. He has exhibited his works in group and solo shows, domestic and international. Ishihara held solo exhibitions in Tochigi Prefectural Art Museum in 1998, Otani Memorial Art Museum in 2004 and he participated in the Venice Biennale’s Aperto section in 1988. His most recent exhibitions include his 2017 solo exhibition, Mirror Behind Hole – Photography into Sculpture at gallery αM in Tokyo; a group show, Japanorama New Vision on Arts in Japan Since 1970 at The Centre Pompidou Metz in France; a group show in 2018, Starting Points: Japanese Art of the ‘80s. at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa; a traveling solo exhibition 34 LIGHT YEARS at MEM gallery in Tokyo; and in 2021, a group show Photographic Distance at Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts.