Jason McCoy Gallery is pleased to present a survey of contemporary clay sculptures from the past decade by Keiko Narahashi. Featuring excerpts from several bodies of work, this exhibition aims to provide an overview of an oeuvre that is characterized by distinct series.
For example, some of Narahashi’s best known works, her so-called silhouettes, are rooted in her contemplation of the 18th Century philosopher Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), who believed that an individual’s moral character could be deduced from the specific shapes of a person’s face and head. By pushing physical details, such as facial features toward abstraction, Narahashi’s silhouettes manifest as a silent protest of the generalizations and prejudiced judgements propagated in Lavater’s highly influential Essays on Physiognomy, which have been repeated in discriminatory theory ever after. The exhibition title was drawn directly from one of Lavater’s statements.
Meanwhile, when addressing her clay sculptures in general, Narahashi states: “They sometimes feel to me like externalizations of a pre-dawn state, of newborn body sensations and wordless impulses. They arise from a conviction that even an abstracted form can be imbued with emotional and psychological meaning which can then be intuited by the viewer. In general, I like to use clay in a stretched-out state, as slabs, or as a skin between inside and outside, carrying traces of actions: pushing, bulging, swelling. It feels as if I am simultaneously acting on the clay and groping inside my own body. For me, there is a sort of undermining humor in using clay this way. It feels ambiguous and feminine, like a woman with a beard.”
Keiko Narahashi (b. 1959) was born in Tokyo, Japan. She studied at the Parsons School of Design, New York (BFA, 1988) and received an MFA in painting at Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, New York (1999). Her institutional exhibitions include Sheppard Contemporary Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno (2011); Kuhn Fine Arts Gallery, Ohio State University, Marion (2011); The College Art Gallery, The College of New Jersey (2010); Educational Alliance, New York (2006); Dumbo Arts Center, New York (2006, 2002); Dallas Center of Contemporary Art, Texas (2003); Visceglia Gallery, Caldwell College, New Jersey (2001); Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2000, 1999); Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles (1999); Bard College (1998), and the Art Institute of Chicago (1993). She is a recipient of A Studio Grant from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation (2005–2006), the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant for Painting (2006), and the Anne Klein Prize from Unframed First Look, New York (2003). Her work is featured in New York Studio Conversations, Part II, (The Green Box, Berlin, 2018), Perfect Imperfect (Murdoch Books, 2016) and has been reviewed in The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Brooklyn Rail, among others. Narahashi currently lives and works in New York City. This is her first solo exhibition with Jason McCoy Gallery.