With My Eyes Closed

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May 15 – June 26, 2009

Curated by Nao Onda
Artists: Takenori Fukaumi, Rintaro Sawada, Akiko Tojo


Opening Reception: Friday, May 15, 6-8PM

“With your eyes closed there are many things you can see, even better than when you keep them open..”

Referring to the short story by Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, the exhibition, “With My Eyes Closed,” takes viewers beyond what is seen to the unseen, i. e. the imaginative, mystical power and psychological worlds that three young Japanese artists unfold in the Foundation’s front gallery space. This is the first presentation in New York for these artists.

On the north wall, paintings by Takenori Fukaumi (b.1975) address his daily subjects such as his wife and daughter and the nostalgic image of his mother and his sisters in school uniform. In his paintings, women are iconic, optimistic, triumphal. With the twist of humor, men are miniatured and defeated. In Noctiluca, the school girl, one of Fukaumi’s notable dreamy heroines, presents herself in her congratulatory smile almost ecstatically in a spotlight on the stage.
In Plaza, Fukaumi succeeds to penetrate the interaction of the first time mother and her first child. The perplexing mother is toying a nursing bottle that contains warm water and her blissful baby child is floating upside down in the bottle. With soft pink as a base color, his paintings are whimsical, celebrating the ephemeral pleasant moments one experiences in his/her everyday life.

Nearby the entrance, two ceramic sculptures by Rintaro Sawada (b.1981) welcome visitors. Sawada, one of proteges of Kimpei Nakamura, a legendary sculptor of contemporary Japanese ceramic, continues to fire his rocky clay sculpture until a kiln almost bursts as to challenge the limit of the kiln flame’s alchemy.
The residue completed by the natural element of fire is warmly organic despite its dismal colors and shades as the mixture of various clay and glaze. His main sculpture The Bottom of Everyday appears to be a faux-mineral stone recreated as the result of the artist’s confrontational statement to uncontrollable power of nature. Opposed to the raw sculpture, another small sculpture is burnished, like a sacred stone in a cave. White feldspar overflows from the inside of its body as if it cannot hold the spirit of mystical nature god inside any longer.

On the south wall, wood figurative sculptures by Akiko Tojo (b.1984) a recent graduate from Tokyo University of the Arts, demonstrate deep emotion within and gradually intrigue the mind of the viewer. In her installation, Tojo conveys nonverbal sentiments and the strength of female adaptability to living environments such as pink flamingos whose feathers change color according to the amount of carotenoid pigments in the algae and small crustaceans that the birds eat. Like the water birds, Tojo’s girls stay together, never outrage, but quietly evoke and invade one’s mind. In Blindfold, a naked woman in blue tights covers her eyes by her own hands. Withholding her unvoiced emotion, she chooses to obstruct her own vision to protect herself from adversities.

The worlds of each artist’s creations become more visible when viewers close their eyes, contemplate and open again to grasp the “new” sight.

For more information about the artists, please visit www.naocontemporary.net or
contact Nao Onda at info@naocontemporary.net/201 658 4885 for further inquiry.

This exhibition is made possible by ISE CULTURAL FOUNDATION NEW YORK.
Additional support is provided by Gallery HANA Shimokitazawa.

From left:
Akiko Tojo, “Blindfold”, 2009, Wood;
Takenori Fukaumi, “Noctiluca”, 2009, Acrylic on canvas (Photograph by Yoichiro Furuya);
Rintaro Sawada, “The Bottom of Everyday”, 2006, Ceramic.

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