Artify Gallery is proud to present the second solo exhibition of Tokyo-based artist Katsutoshi Yuasa in色即是空: All Is Vanity from 15th October 2015 – 20th February 2016. In this exhibition, Yuasa’s woodcut prints will draw on audiences to question notions of beauty and tragedy, especially in this tumultuous world we live in.
In his second exhibition at Artify Gallery, Yuasa displays stunning and colourful woodcut prints to reflect the darker meaning behind each image. The artist makes a statement about the two parallel worlds we live in; one in front of a computer screen, completely desensitised to the images we find online, against the real world outside. Diverting away slightly from his sole interest in the natural world, the artist also exhibits woodcut prints that he has based on shocking photographs of massacred children by the Islamic State and Boko Haram. For Yuasa, the Internet is a platform that provides easily accessible images that are both deplorable and upsetting. The artist feels that although these images are something we do not necessarily want to see and acknowledge, these horrific crimes are occurring right now in our world. “We cannot touch it, [or] smell [it]… [It has] no temperature”, states Yuasa when describing the photos. The only exposure we have are these images, images that do not have the same sensory effect as reality. The artist goes on to add that he thinks, “art is a kind of nonviolent terrorism against the unjust world. Especially, beauty is power. That’s why I try to make works beautiful as much as possible, even based on such a cruel photo.” Thus, the artist would like to use his practice as a means of bringing to light this thought-provoking subject matter through his stunning, vivid woodcut prints.
On his practice Yuasa states “Carving a wood block is neither a copy of a photograph nor a record of my experience. The carving process is like a journey that sheds light on places of the world…The essence of printmaking is how to visualise the relationship between the subjective memory of the individual and the objective moment of the captured event.”
The artist’s methodology is a careful and thorough process. At its inception, each woodcut derives from a photograph, which is subsequently transformed digitally. Yuasa employs a traditional Japanese woodblock printing technique (Japanese: 木版画, moku hanga), which is a meticulously intense and painstakingly laborious process that transmutes the image and eventually reveals a narrative uncovered underneath the woodblock’s surface. Yuasa then prints the finalised work by hand. The woodcutting process is a journey the artist undertakes in order to highlight the captured moment of the photographic image, in order to reveal the event taking place for the audience to enquire and question.