Tomio Koyama Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Toru Kuwakubo. This is the artist’s first exhibition in four years.
Toru Kuwakubo started his artistic practice with a theatrical approach, finding the figure of an imaginary painter within himself as a means to explore contemporary art through the medium of painting. His unique expressions created by a classical technique of layering thick oil paint to depict contemporary imagined sceneries reminiscent of the work of Van Gogh, have received acclaim both internationally and within Japan.
This exhibition features Kuwakubo’s “Calendar Series,” in which he depicts the respective lives of the painters he respects: Picasso, Vermeer, Ensor, Cézanne, Seurat, and Gogh. He paints these painters’ studios as imaginary, spectacular spaces of alternate dimension through manner of his own interpretation. Such works serve as an ultimate homage that attempt to re-experience these painters’ practices and ideas. The days lived by these prominent painters within art history, their time of practice, and the era in which they lived, as well as the time of Kuwakubo’s own practice and life, all seem uncannily fleeting and give rise to a sense of ‘irregular speed of time.’ Kuwakubo had decided to use a “calendar,” which he had always expressed a fondness for to depict the notion of “time” within his paintings.
Kuwakubo began working on this series in 2014, commencing with Munch who he considers as his favorite artist. This work however did not meet its completion, as he had been unable to fully develop his concepts. Thereafter he attempted to depict Ensor, proceeding to allocate each painter a month: April to Ensor, as he associated the impressions of Ensor’s pink colors to cherry blossoms. Cézanne’s work had seemed to evoke the winds of May, while Gogh conveyed feelings of the sea on the summer nights in August. Kuwakubo allocated March to Vermeer as he had started working on the painter in March. Picasso was selected to become a face of the calendar, and hence was given January. Seurat got the early summer month of July. Although working on this series for nearly four years it is still not complete, with the exhibition on this occasion only featuring paintings from six different months of the year. The series itself can thus be described as harboring a irregular sense of speed.
In a painting for Vermeer, Kuwakubo had depicted all 37 paintings by Vermeer. He appropriated a monochrome image of Guernica for a painting with a theme of Picasso’s studio.Through working on this series Kuwakubo felt that he had become familiar with each painter’s character and feelings for example, “intelligent” Vermeer, “stubborn” Cézanne, “powerful and overwhelming” Picasso, and “honest” Seurat. Kuwakubo employs brushstrokes and colors through the imagined eyes of each painter, and situates their major works within his paintings, with the motifs stepping out from the canvases to create multi-layered compositions. New perspectives on these painters emerge with unlimited possibilities and sensations amidst complex timeframes and elaborately painted details.
This exhibition will feature six paintings and six drawings form the Calendar series. Music composed with the motif of each painter by Kuwakubo’s friend and musician Riki Hidaka, are recorded on LP records that are framed above the drawings. Kuwakubo explores a complex and multi-disciplinary approach of using both painting and music based on painters within art history by means of employing traditional recording media. A live performance by musician Riki Hidaka is also scheduled during the opening reception 6-8pm on January 20.