The Multiply Encoded Messages (MEM) was founded by Katsuya Ishida in 1997. Originally located in Shitennoji, Osaka, the gallery then moved to Esaka where it continued to operate as a private gallery of the founder. In 2003, MEM reopened as a contemporary gallery in Kitahama, Osaka. It was allocated a space on the fourth floor of the Arai Building, a registered tangible cultural property built in 1922. Later in 2003, it hosted a series of three solo shows commemorating its opening, featuring three artists: “Barco negro na mesa” which introduced the early work of Yasumasa Morimura; Tomoaki Ishihara’s “SCOTOMA”, featuring his sculpture of an evacuated sphere; and “HIMALAYA” that exhibited Chie Matsui’s video installation shot in the Arai Building.


Having started with exhibitions highlighting the works of prominent Kansai-region artists who emerged during the 80s, the gallery continues to feature various pieces centered around contemporary art. In 2010, MEM once again changed its home from Kitahama, Osaka, to the NADiff A/P/A/R/T in Ebisu, Tokyo, where it continues to operate today. Already featuring Kansai’s long-standing artists, including Yoshio Kitayama, Kimiyo Mishima, and Yasue Kodama, with the relocation to Tokyo, the gallery expanded its line-up of artists. The younger generation were added, such as artists from the 2000s, Noriko Yamaguchi and Maki Toshima, who are known for their video installation, as well as emerging 2010s talents, Ayano Sudo and Natsuko Tanihara. In addition, the gallery has enriched their programs focused on works by Ken Kitano, Katsumi Omori, Keizo Motoda, Charles Fréger, Antoine d’Agata, and other artists who represent contemporary photographic art in Japan and overseas. Further, on the 30th anniversary of Shigeo Gocho’s passing, the gallery organized a two-session exhibition to reflect the works by the iconic artist of konpora photographs.


In the mid-90s, the gallery was fortunate to come across avant-garde pieces by the pre-World War II photographer, Osamu Shiihara. Prompted by this discovery, they started investigating the Tampei Photography Club, to which Shiihara belonged, along with other photography groups and individual photographers who were involved in the avant-garde photography movement before and after the war. Since then, the gallery has organized exhibitions to shed light on photographers and photography groups who made outstanding achievements throughout the history of Japanese modern photography, with special attention paid to those whose profiles remain unclarified. Some noteworthy projects include: curation of the portfolio and exhibition featuring modern prints created by Iwata Nakayama, founder of the Ashiya Camera Club in 1930; an exhibition highlighting the activities of the Naniwa Photography Club in the early post-war period; a photography collection by Shigeru Onishi who gained recognition in Europe for his abstract ink paintings after they were featured in an exhibition curated by Michel Tapié; and an exhibition introducing the Kyoto-based avant-garde photography group, K.P.S. (Kyoto Photographers Society).


MEM’s policy is to work together with contemporary artists, creating a space for unveiling their new artworks to the public, and thereby providing as much assistance as possible to support their career long-term.
As well as promoting the work of its artists to museums and public institutions, both in Japan and overseas, MEM places an emphasis on having the work of their artists collected by museums and other public institutions, therefore making them available for researching and publishing. Archiving records of the works, activities and achievements of their artists in this way ensures they will be passed down to future generations.
With respect to introducing and handling modern artist’s works, MEM aims to re-examine the past achievements of the artists by tracing back the footprints of their works. Each work will be investigated from the point of its creation, through to its development and transformation, considering the social context of the time, and understand its place and significance in the history of art and photography.


MEM actively participates in domestic and international art fairs, including Paris Photo, The Photography Show presented by AIPAD, and Art Basel in Hong Kong. Currently, MEM is a member of Association for the Promotion of Contemporary Art in Japan (APCA), AIPAD, the Fine-Art Photography Association (FAPA), and the Contemporary Art Dealers Association Nippon (CADAN).

Top