Onishi Gallery is pleased to announce the opening on October 22nd of KODAMA: Tree Spirit, Nagai Megumi’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. Born in Japan but currently based in New York City, Nagai creates paintings that are Eastern in character and yet Western in technique.
Continuing to explore themes found in Japanese fables and Edo period artworks, Nagai’s newest body of work further emphasizes the relationship she has with her preferred substrate: natural wood. Used by both Japanese and Western artists for centuries, wood is much more than a simple substitute for canvas. The artist views each piece of wood that she uses as having a unique character, and even it’s own spirit, or kodama. In Japanese folklore, kodama are the spirits of trees, and are mentioned alongside demons (oni) and gods (kami) in the Heian period (c. 794-1185) epic, The Tale of Genji. Although described in many different ways throughout history, kodama invariably symbolize the importance of nature and the forest in Japanese culture.
The works on view represent Nagai’s reverence for the kodama within the wood that she uses. Each finished painting is the result of collaboration between the artist and the wood; without the cooperation of the wood grain, the artist would be unable to draw a straight line. Even her palette is determined by the undertones of the wood. In the end, it is only by finding harmony with the kodama that Nagai is able to create her paintings.
Born in Japan in 1951, Nagai received her degree from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1975. She has exhibited both within the United States and abroad, and her work is held in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum.
For more information, please contact Anna Pillow at 212.695.8035 or [email protected].