5 Years After Japan’s Devastating Earthquake and Tsunami, Ronin Gallery Recalls “The Great Wave”

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the northeastern coast of Japan. Soon after, a tsunami consumed the coast, swallowing whole towns and covering the Tohoku region with dark waves of roiling seawater and debris. More than 15,000 people died; thousands more are still missing.

For the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, Ronin Gallery in New York presents “The Great Wave: Contemporary Talents of Japan,” a group show featuring a wide range of artists, each reinventing traditional techniques to illuminate the country’s devastation and revitalization.

Tokyo-based Tomomi Kamoshita creates small sculptures using mismatched fragments of patterned ceramics—random pieces he collected on the seashore after the tsunami waters receded. Kamoshita reassembles the pieces using kintsugi, a technique that involves repairing ceramics by gluing the fragments together with gold. Though the origin of each fragment is unknown, their reconstituted forms represent resilience and cultural revival.

The 11-artist show also includes Yuki Nishimoto’s detailed ink works on paper as well as Masato Sudo’s photographs of tattooed figures posing on a black beach. In Sudo’s portraits, his subjects’ hands, ankles, and feet sink into the pebbled beaches, disappearing into nature.

Keisuke Yamaguchi, winner of the Ronin|Globus Artist-in-Residence Program, also engages with themes of fragmentation, destruction, and, ultimately, resolution. His paintings swell and swirl like the roiling sea, often with ominous blacks, grays, red, and an eerie yellow that radiates a profound sense of unease. A monstrous man lurches forward in Yaoramusubi (2016), while in The Images of the 33 Reincarnations of Kannon Wave - The Spirit of Tomorrow (2016), a mess of disembodied limbs coalesce into a deathly wave.


—Anna Furman


The Great Wave: Contemporary Talents of Japan” is on view at Ronin Gallery, New York, Jun. 23–Jul. 30, 2016.

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