Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present “Imagined Peripheries”, a group exhibition by 5 artists from East Asia: Masanori Handa (Japan), Yayoi Kusama (Japan), Firoz Mahmud (Bangladesh), Nobuaki Takekawa (Japan) and Yeesookyung (South Korea). This exhibition is a contemplation on the various scenes which contain full of forgotten, unnoticed or unspoken stories. Through their art works, these 5 artists move our attention to such imaginative sceneries in relation to historical and geographical references, nature and the universe, as well as reflection on the self.
Nobuaki Takekawa (b. 1977) and Firoz Mahmud (b. 1974) take their artistic theme from the history of the regions they are rooted in. Takekawa pays his attention to the historical issues in East Asia, and for both his painting Heptiamond of East Asia (2016) and installation work Celestial Sugoroku (2016) in this show, he uses old maps from the WWII period as a base, and on top he places Japanese board game Sugoroku to depict the multi-layeredness of history. For the installation work, he also arranges ceramic pieces on the surface, which reveals Takekawa’s playful artistic language. Mahmud’s historical interest goes further south to India. His painting Traitor of Faith [plot 2 #Shiraj &Mir] (2010) is based on the long battle between the Nawab of Bengal and the British East Indian Company during the rule of the Mughal Empire in the 17th Century. Narrating the stories of the past through his works, Mahmud juxtaposes themes of socio-political culture, tradition, history, myths and pop culture, creating a new visual territory addressing the rich histories of his native land.
On the other hand, the other three artists focus more on their internal landscapes. Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) presents her imaginative wonderland through her abstract expression. Her paintings in this exhibition are part of two of her most important series – “Infinity Nets” series (1950s – present) as well as “My Eternal Soul” series (2009 – present). “Infinity Nets” series is filled with the accumulation of infinity arcs drawn by elaborate brush strokes. The irregular bumps produced by each arc, and their continuously changing surfaces caused by the light and each of their shades, maintains a strong materiality and creates an eternally repeating rhythm which intrigues the audience. “My Eternal Soul” is characterized with the flowering of her long-standing interest in the universal, her longing for immortality through her art. Not forgetting her signature pumpkin motif, this exhibition also presents her stainless-steel pumpkin sculpture with multi-coloured dots.
Masanori Handa (b. 1979) and Yeesookyung (b. 1963) garner their inspiration from daily livelihood rather than great historical or social events. Handa’s world is one of playful, impressionistic, yet nonetheless contemplative experimentation. Presented in this exhibition are drawings from his series “nakakiyo no entakukei” (2015 – present), which is based on a traditional Japanese poem known for an expression of a long, humid night. His use of rich, bold watercolours and oil pastels forms powerful and arresting depictions of surreal, imagined sceneries. Sites, scenery, and urban phenomena are the loci at which incidents are recorded and vividly remembered by Handa. Yeesookyung’s drawings were made by the artist on a daily basis, serving as a meditative and cathartic process to heal her personal wounds. The motif of the mandala, a spiritual and ritualistic symbol, is repeated in each drawing, expressed in various colours and forms. They are accompanied by whimsical illustrations and repetitive patterns.
These artists’ works range from painting, sculpture, drawing to mixed media, and through vastly different approaches, one can experience narratives of worldly social issues and private stories, from the macro cosmos to the micro details. Ota Fine Arts Singapore welcomes you to experience each of their unique forms of expression.
About the Artists
Masanori Handa (b. 1979) was born in Kanagawa and completed a BA in Fine Arts at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2003, where he continues to work today. His works have previously been shown at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale (2006) and the Art Tower Mito (2007). In 2009, Handa was selected to be a part of the prestigious "Rolex Art Initiative Mentor and Protégé" program where he was mentored by Rebecca Horn, an accomplished German installation artist and film director. Subsequently, he participated in notable group exhibitions, workshops and site-specific projects at the National Museum of Art, Osaka (2011), the Hara Museum, Tokyo (2009), the Edoardo Chiossone Museum, Genoa (2009), the TATE Modern, London (2009), The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2011), and the Museum of Architecture, Warsaw (2015).
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) has been highly valuated as a vanguard of pop art and minimalism which are important art movements in the late 20th century. Painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, video, print, installation, environmental art, literature, fashion and product design… Kusama’s artistic activities lightly go beyond their fields, and her attitude of vigorously creating new works captures the hearts of people around the world. The artist was born in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture in 1929. After studying painting in the modern Japanese Nihonga style in Kyoto, she moved to New York in the late 1950s. Kusama establishes her career as an avant-garde artist through stimulating happenings and exhibitions until the mid-1960s. From 1980 onwards she became widely known through international solo exhibitions, and the opportunity matured for re-evaluation at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993. Thereafter she has held solo exhibitions throughout the world such as New York MoMA, Tate Modern, Pompidou Centre. She has been selected as one of the 100 most influential people by TIME Magazine this year.
Firoz Mahmud (b. 1974) was born in Khulna, Bangladesh and completed his BFA and MFA at the Dhaka University's Institute of Fine Arts before attaining a PHD in Fine Arts from the Tokyo University of the Arts. Mahmud has completed residencies at the Rijksakademie VBK, Amsterdam, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York. His paintings and installations examine the socio-political culture, tradition, history, myths and pop culture of his native land. Mahmud's most notable works have been featured in group exhibitions at “The Missing One” (2016), The Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo, "Aichi Triennale 2010: Arts and Cities", Aichi, Japan (2010); "The 9th Sharjah Biennial" (2009); and "The 11th International Cairo Biennale" (2008).
Nobuaki Takekawa (b.1977) was born in Tokyo, Japan, and received his BA in Oil Painting at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2002. He has since exhibited at Collection Lambert, Avignon (1999), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (2007), and has held several solo shows at Ota Fine Arts in Tokyo and Singapore. His installation at “Real Japanesque—The Unique World of Japanese Contemporary Art” (2012) at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, drew critical acclaim. He also participated in the “12th Biennale de Lyon” (2013) at the Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon in France. Recently, he participated in the “Aichi Triennale 2016: Rainbow Caravan” (2016), as well as the Singapore Biennale: An Atlas of Mirrors” (2016). Takekawa continues to reveal many of his personal experiences in his work, while interweaving them with current events and cultural history.
Yeesookyung (b.1963) studied painting at the College of Fine Arts of the National University in Seoul. Her solo exhibitions have been held at Arko Art Center, Seoul (2010), Maison Hermes Dosan Park, Seoul (2015), MOCA Taipei, Taiwan (2015) and Asia Society Texas Center, Houston (2016). She has been featured in notable exhibitions including "Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012" at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2012), the "2012 Korea Art Prize" at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (2012), "Korea Eye 2012" at the Saatchi Gallery (2012), "The Collectors Show: Weight of History" at the Singapore Art Museum (2013) and “Paradox of place: Contemporary Korean Art” at the Seattle Asian Art Museum (2016). Her works have been collected by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea (Gwacheon), IFEMA ARCO Collection (Madrid), Echigo-Tsumari City collection (Japan), and the Saatchi Gallery (London).
About Ota Fine Arts
Ota Fine Arts was established in 1994 in Tokyo. For over 20 years the gallery has defined itself as being a pioneer of Japanese contemporary art. Today, Ota Fine Arts is located in Roppongi, Tokyo, and has opened a new branch in Singapore’s art-complex Gillman Barracks in September 2012. Ota Fine Arts continues to present an exciting roster of emerging artists from the “Asian cultural belt”: The Middle East to Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea.