nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present “Sculpture | Painting -Portrait on an invisible man-”, a two-person exhibition showing the works of Takanori Ishizuka and Makito Takagi.
Conceived as representation of people’s external appearance, portrait is an artistic form with a long history and many are the artists who are still practicing it nowadays. Its expressive style has been changing with the times, and artists have each created works based on their own personal perspective.
Characterized by different themes and materials, Takanori Ishizuka’s and Makito Takagi’s works are populated by imaginary monsters, personified small animals and beasts. The expression of these powerful portraits is invisible to us as if they were wearing masks. However, it is the drawn landscape, and the subject’s attitude to guide our perception and awareness, as the inner feelings invisible to the eye - various sentiments such as the artist’s personal concerns, empathy, that are conveyed through the subject - come to the surface.
Nowadays, where, thanks to social media sharing features and the high-quality cameras smart phones come with, many people live regularly surrounded by pictures, it is easy to end up believing that reality is that very object photographed in front of our eyes. One’s own self facing the others once again, and the reexamination of that relationship as the background, these ideas are the backbone of this exhibition.
The exhibition presents Takanori Ishizuka’s sculptures and Makito Takagi’s paintings through a selection of recent and new pieces.
Born in 1970, Kanagawa Prefecture. Lives and works in Kanagawa
Recent Main Exhibitions: “HITEN”, A/D Gallery Roppongi, Tokyo (2018 upcoming) / Kakegawa Chaennale, Fukuoka (2017) / “Sleep/Death” un petit GARAGE, Tokyo (2017) / “KEMONO Apartment”, Yohohama Apartment, Yokohama (2016) / Odate & Kitaakita Arts Festival”, Akita (2014) / "TAT - Trans Art Tokyo”, Tokyo (2013/2012) / “Takanori Ishizuka”, TRAUMARIS, Tokyo (2011) / “Takanori Ishizuka”, hpgrp gallery, Tokyo (2010) / “Sacred Beast”, nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2009) / “Kemono” DISCO, Yokohama (2006) / “Taberu-chan”, Little more gallery, Tokyo (2005) / “Wa☆Shoi!”, Makii Masaru Fine Arts, Tokyo (2005) / “magical art life – a collector’s world”, Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Tokyo, (2006) / “Café In Mito 2004”, Art Tower Mito and Mito City Museum Collection : MOT Museo of Contemporary Art Tokyo | Other private and public collections.
Born in 1986, Shizuoka Prefecture. Lives and works in Tokyo.
2010 MA Graduation, Department of Painting, Oil Painting Course, Tama Art University
~2011 Member of “OLTA” Art Group
Main Exhibitions: “Moonshot”, FARO-Kagurazaka, Tokyo (2018) / “Nice Corm !!”, Anagura, Tokyo (2017) / “Outer Side 2”, Calm&Pink gallery, Tokyo (2016) / “Sompo Japan Outstanding Rising Artists Exhibition FINAL”, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art, Tokyo (2012) / “Emerging Japanese Artists”, iPRECIATION, Hong Kong (2011) / “ASCENTION PLEASE!!”, Gallery Tokyo Humanity lab, Tokyo (2010)
In collaboration with: ART AND REASON LTD
Contemporary Pop: - “Sculpture | Painting - Portrait of an Invisible man -“
The influence of pop culture in contemporary art has become such common knowledge that people do not notice it nor think of it anymore. When the tools that we use unconsciously become no matter what invisible premises, such tools exert a great force all around. Therefore, it is in situations like these that we must catch the pop element and make it the object of our thinking.
We can surely say that pop represents for contemporary art a sort of foundation that works as described above. Although it is crystal clear if we take an extensive look at contemporary art worldwide, nowadays everything is so permeated by and flooded with pop that there is no point in defining it as such.
The reason becomes clear if we think of the role culture (including art, as well) plays in society. It has an entertaining function. “Entertainment” sneaked in as art’s role around the 20th century. In the beginning it was about artworks representing recreational scenes (Impressionism), however, art came to regard this recreational aspect not as its subject but rather as its motivation. The first example is provided by Cubist Collage. It consisted in the fragmentation of various images that symbolized society in the early 20th century, and their subsequent reassembling. Furthermore, for paintings (comic art and animation, as well), it replaced the two-dimensional expression with a three-dimensional world. This fragments-assembling game was the origin of pop. But there is more to it than that. The world, converted to a world from a different dimension, and reality, as the material itself, did not make a leap forward a transcendental dimension.
Next, pop leapt onto art’s front stage with pop art represented of course by Andy Warhol. This is how pop fully blossomed. Pin-pointing 1960’s mass-consumption society as its unlimited source, pop art applied collages in every possible way as a method to reshape reality and transform it into a world from a different dimension. They were expression of colorful and upbeat anti-fine art, however, there was no escaping from reality to an estranged illusional world. Even so, pop did not confirm reality either. Pop art was a bright, flashy, frivolous world that refused to deny or confirm reality. Like an illegitimate child making reality its mother, this representation reshaped reality and innocently lit up pop’s essence (lust, enjoyment, etc.,). However, pop art and conceptual art at that time, unlike modern art that advocated an autonomy disconnected from reality, neither intellectually criticized nor passed judgement on reality.
Then, how has the ambiguous attitude towards pop art reality been taken over today?
Being so overwhelmingly known yet overlooked by everyone, pop meets the enigma of a reality that pop itself secretly thematizes, by being brought up in people’s consciousness, It is not a post-modern show that puts pop to sleep, dragging it back deeper into unconsciousness; it is about picking up pop’s strategies once again combined with a fragmented reality, and putting on the table the issue of how to mirror a reality shifted to a different world.
Well then, what about the artists on view in the two-person exhibition “Sculpture | Painting -Portrait of an Invisible man-”? Makito Takagi’s paintings expose a world from a different dimension employing a pop-like approach. However, that very operation (for example the stroboscope emitting light), becoming metaphor of the pop-game, makes this strategy vividly glow under the moonlight in the “Moonshot” series. That playful and bright chimera-like figurative art neither confirms nor denies a reality where people live. It floats in between. By uncovering the pop-strategy in this way, Takagi’s world, neutralized by pop itself, is marvelously shifting off the violent void that frames the end of pop. On the other hand, Takanori Ishizuka steps into a different type of pop with his sculptures. Through wall and floor installations, he drags the real world into a three-dimensional pop-space. In other words, he mixes together (as a collage-process) the reality originated from pop art with pop-like shapes and, after working out the dual block natural face/mask, he sets a time bomb for a representation that refuses to deny or confirm reality, When the explosion happens, reality might at last end up covered by loud laughter “beyond good and evil”.
In line with what has been said so far, we can surely see these two artists as the rightful successors of the 60’s pop art.
Kentaro Ichihara (Art Critic)