Susumu Kamijo, Misaki Kawai, Minami Kobayashi, Hiroya Kurata & Koichi Sato
Stems Gallery is pleased to present “Anecdote”, a group exhibition by Susumu Kamijo (b.1975 Nagano, JP); Misaki Kawai (b.1978 Ōkawa, JP); Minami Kobayashi (b.1989 Nagoya, JP); Hiroya Kurata (b.1980, JP) & Koichi Sato (b.1974 Tokyo, JP).
“Anecdote” features work by a diverse group of figurative Japanese artists based in the United States. As the title suggests, the Anecdote is an exploration used by the featured artists to think about various aspects of their artworks outside the scope of stereotypes often related to their homeland Japan.
Generally, one tells an anecdote from a very specific, yet subjective, and personal perspective, making the story more interesting to tell. This exhibition depicts how these figurative artists see their own way of life, one in which the anecdotal can reveal a story hidden behind the images and characters in their work. Having met each other in and around New York, their art explore subjects and themes, generating fun and critical response to the notions usually associated with Japanese art. Growing in dissociation with the traditionally more technical oriented art found in Japan, this group of artists consider themselves much more laid-back and thus more free as they refuse to conform to the rigid structures conventionally found in Japanese art.
Fascinated by the shapes and customization capacity of poodles, Susumu Kamijo paints portraits of poodles as a gender-based anecdote. Transforming the canines with multiple body shapes, masses, hairstyles and colors, Kamijo enjoys remodelling the animal into an abstract creature, giving it a mythological or sci-fi feel, with a distinct, often quirky, personality. In terms of poodles, Kamijo just likes the shape of these dogs, he considers it too much responsibility when people come up to him and tell him they love poodles. What a nice anecdote.
Likewise, Misaki Kawai portrays childishness through the use of vibrant colors, amusing lines, and design, capturing the world in a fun and exciting comic style.
Minami Kobayashi combines intimacy and mystery in her ceramics and paintings, through her depictions of ordinary people, animals, and places to connect memories and distant dreams.
The figurative paintings of Koichi Sato state bold patterns and colors, featuring playful characters with stylized faces and exaggerated forms. Stemming from the Japanese artist’s fascination with old American magazines, Sato often depicts group portraits, whose characters refer to TV stars, bodybuilders, and other figures in pop culture.
Finally, Hiroya Kurata’s, daydreaming landscapes animate the characters from found imagery with those of personal reminiscence. Creating therefore strange and familiar scenes in a playful reinvention of Japanese visual language.
Ultimately all of the works, their character bearing anecdotes can be seen as a deconstruction of what origin really means, whether it be a painting of a child or romanticized landscapes, they embrace the micro and the personal to appreciate what they already have.