Masahiko Kuwahara, ‘Room’, 2000, Japan Society Benefit Auction 2016

Raised in Tokyo, Masahiko Kuwahara started exhibiting his paintings in the 1980s. Embracing the distortions and dark side of Japan's swift economic growth, he repeatedly focused on themes such as glittering man-made goods, crude industrial objects, and marine life contaminated by factory sewage to evoke the problems of postwar Japanese society. Since the mid-1990s, however, Kuwahara has moved away from social discourse, turning instead to depictions in milky-white hues capturing languid, drifting scenes that are paradoxically suffused with sweetness and euphoria but are also extremely dangerous, exuding a sense of desolation.

Signature: Signed.

Image rights: Courtesy of Tomio Koyama Gallery, © Masahiko Kuwahara

About Masahiko Kuwahara

Masahiko Kuwuhara’s paintings are at once eerie, humorous, and cute. According to the artist, his purpose is “to draw a part of this world that overflows with a strange idea.” Kuwuhara leads a secluded life and does not own a computer or television, but receives his news from the world via newspapers and fliers, from which he sometimes draws inspiration for motifs or titles. He is best known for his simplified forms, soft colors, and an almost cartoon-like or child-like style. His recurring motifs include young girls and animals, which appear variously despondent, deformed, and isolated, referencing themes of estrangement contemporary life. He also makes sculptures exploring similar motifs and themes.

Japanese, b. 1959