On Mono, Koto, and Kotoba – Eight Perspectives

Artist|Tomoaki Ishihara, Shigeru Onishi, Katsumi Omori, Ryo Orikasa, Yasue Kodama, Hitoshi Nakazato, Kimiyo Mishima, Mission Invisible
Dates|November 2 – 27, 2022
Venue|MEM map
Open Hours|12:00 – 19:00 (During Art Week Tokyo from Nov. 2 to 6 opens 10:00–19:00)
The gallery is closed on Mondays.

In Japanese, mono and koto are said to be essential concepts that shape thought. It is no exaggeration to say that these two concepts are at the core of artistic creation. Mono, literally translated as material, object, or thing, is defined as “an object that occupies space or a form perceptible by the human senses.” Koto, translated as incident or event, refers to “an abstract object of thought, consciousness, phenomena, action, or character.” Kotoba means word or language.

Mono can make koto, and vice versa. Kotoba, on the other hand, can act as an intermediary between the two but can also create koto without the mono. Mono and koto also give rise to kotoba. This complex network forms the world, giving birth to many philosophical debates and works of art.

This exhibition introduces the undertakings of seven artists and an artist collective who have pursued their unique worldviews emerging from the relationships between mono, koto, and kotoba.

Tomoaki Ishihara uses braille to question our overreliance on our visual sense. Yasue Kodama finds pictorial expression in neither mono nor koto but in the space between the two. A mathematician, Shigeru Onishi endeavored to express his research on topology through photography and art calligraphy. Ryo Orikasa created an animation based on Roland Barthes’ paper “Non Multa Sed Multum,” inspired by Cy Twombly’s scribbled graffiti-like markings that incorporated letters, numbers, and symbols. A photographer, Katsumi Omori, focuses his gaze on letters that appear in his snapshot landscapes. Hitoshi Nakazato deconstructs the form of Japanese kanji and applies them to his abstract paintings and prints. Kimiyo Mishima bakes printed media into her ceramics. And finally, Mission Invisible attempts to depict paintings with words and present the depicted words as paintings. MEM will introduce these eight perspectives.