Beyond the Flâneur


April 12 – May 24, 2003

Curated by Yasufumi Nakamori

Artists: Akane Asaoka, Kenn Bass, Franklin Evans, Naoya Hatakeyama, Yun-Fei Ji, Masahiko Kuwahara, Mark Parsons, Gerry Snyder

Ise Cultural Foundation is pleased to present the exhibition Beyond the Flâneur, featuring works by Akane Asaoka, Kenn Bass, Franklin Evans, Naoya Hatakeyama, Yun-Fei Ji, Masahiko Kuwahara, Mark Parsons, and Gerry Snyder.  The eight artists primarily based in Tokyo and New York, experiencing their environs as a flâneur,  present their views of contemporary life. This multi-media exhibition includes photography, drawing, painting, and video/sound installation.

The flâneur artist, as defined by 19th century French literary figures such as Charles Baudelaire and Honoré de Balzac, is someone who strolls city streets while observing his surroundings with a detached air and critiquing events and people around him.  The flâneur strolls the boulevards and observes the unfolding spectacle of Parisian life in constant flux.  His mind and eyes rove as freely as his steps during his journey through the labyrinthine city with the purpose of resolving its mysteries.  Such a personage was interesting to Baudelaire, only if he were a “modern” figure of his own time.  He was considered a dandy flâneur if he focused on the most current aspects of contemporary life in a metropolis and related his work to such life as well as a new conception of representation, where pictorial form and content both held crucial roles.

In contemporary life, the flâneur artist leisurely walks in urban environments, real or virtual. The artists in this exhibition will be presenting works that reflect their views of contemporary life through the eyes of the flâneur, dealing with the complexities created through urban environments and their inner states. Their pictorial forms often incorporate panoramic spans of language, sky, figures, and/or animals.

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One such example is Akane Asaoka who, by combining photographs of New York City streets and the images of the light sources within, creates images of urban constellations.  Gerry Snyder, while using the storyboard style in vignettes, depicts cartoon-like composite species in utopian settings in multi-panel oil paintings.  Yun-Fei Ji often depicts “urban” phenomena in modern Chinese history in drawings where “the lyrical quality of classical ink paintings is combined with playful satire.” Naoya Hatakeyama, in his photographs, leads the viewer into the bowels of Tokyo, where “the realm of the sewer is ruled by total darkness and inhabited by the unknown.” Mark Parsons, having experienced urban life conditions through profound geometry, expresses in his sculpture, physical structures as metaphors for a system of logic and human construct.  Franklin Evans depicts images through drawing, which represent a metaphoric manifestation of the urban systems that sustain life in the city.  Masahiko Kuwahara paints surreal panoramas, where animal-like figures float in a post-disaster landscape.   Kenn Bass, in his video/sound installation, investigates a relationship between experience and memory, emerging from the sub-conscious related to living in a city and traveling.

As part of this exhibition, we will host an artists’ talk and discussion to be moderated by Katy Siegel, art critic and assistant professor of art history and criticism at Hunter College.