For “Deep Fried Ghost,” Teppei Kaneuiji’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., the Kyoto-based artist has assembled works from five ambitious series, ranging from cut-paper constructions made from coffee stains to psychedelic statuettes built with the hair pieces of plastic figurines. While these works, which now fill New York’s Jane Lombard Gallery, represent an eclectic practice, they share a skilled facility with material and evidence the artist’s ability to manipulate objects and images.
With recent solos at Kyoto Art Center, K11 Art Foundation, and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, it’s surprising that the acclaimed artist is only just now receiving attention in the U.S. Throughout his career, which began in 2001 after finishing art school in Kyoto, Kaneuiji has demonstrated ingenuity across variegated mediums—think sculptural collages made from beauty advertisements and towering found-object sculptures that resemble hamburgers. His artistic approach is maximalist yet simultaneously keen and discerning; light-hearted in tone yet committed to process and materials. Influenced by Manga cartoons and pop culture, his works are often color-saturated and complex—but always composed with rigorous attention to symmetry and balance.
In one new piece, Ghost in the Liquid Room (foundation) #1 (2015), images of splashes, pours, and daubs of cosmetic liquids—foundation, nail polish, and body lotion—have been cut out, mounted on wood, and assembled into a dynamic, three-dimensional sculptural installation. Another work in the same series uses similar source material: blown-up fragments from beauty advertisements in cream and petal-pink hues. They coalesce to form a cheeky face in which the “mouth” is actually a bottle dribbling mauve-colored makeup. The work seems to poke fun at the artifice of makeup and the tendency to layer it on.
Two sculptures resembling meals of comically exaggerated proportions steal the show, and seem especially appropriate among an American audience. For Muddy Stream from a Mug (Sandwich) and Muddy Stream from a Mug (Hamburger #2) (both 2015), Kaneuiji built vertically soaring sandwiches from stacks of unlikely ingredients: paper, coffee, wood, and urethane resin. The fact that the individual, inedible parts resemble familiar foodstuffs—lettuce, meat, tomato, bun—lends the works a sense of irony, and nods to the artist’s conceptual prowess.
In the “White Discharge” series, Kaneuiji combines industrial materials and everyday objects under a thick white layer of plastic resin. Each piece is a melange of the everyday; a tumble of plastic utensils, a dinosaur model, PVC pipes, a barbecue grill, a winter coat. These incongruous, misplaced objects embody Kaneuiji’s humorous, playful spirit.
“Deep Fried Ghost” is on view at Jane Lombard Gallery, New York, Sep.10-Oct.17, 2015.