Assistant Curator at The Ueno Royal Museum. Has been in charge of the exhibitions “Art of our time” (2008), “Masterpieces of Arts and Crafts in the Prince Arisugawa and Prince Takamatsu Families” (2013), “Cutting-Edge Japanese Video Works: The Daisuke Miyatsu Collection” (2015), “From Edo to Tokyo: The Ueno Royal Museum Ukiyo-e Collection (2015-2016), “KANEUJI Teppei: Symbols Are Not Symbols © MATSUDA Aoko” (2017), “Utagawa Hiroshige’s ‘Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji’ and ukiyo-e in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Era” (2017), and “Sosaku-hanga and Shin-hanga: Japanese Modern Prints from The Ueno Royal Museum Collection“ (2018) among others.
photo by Ken KATO
And yet another way to do it!
This is how I would sum up my thoughts every time I visit an exhibition of Satoshi Uchiumi’s works.
Uchiumi is an artist who consistently creates paintings by the simple technique of drawing dashes of paint in multiple layers, but he does this in such unpredictable ways that expectations based on previous works or exhibitions are frequently betrayed.
He creates paintings that nobody has ever seen, sets up painted spaces that nobody has ever experienced, and even if he exhibits his works at the same venue for the umpteenth time, the impression is always totally different. This is exactly what makes this artist so alluring.
Upon entering the venue of this time’s one-man show, any visitor will surely be astounded to see how the artist makes use of acrylic glass cases. Putting artworks into transparent acrylic glass cases for storage/preservation purposes is nothing unusual, but what the visitor witnesses at this exhibition is a scenery of paintings covered with colored acrylic cases. In each case, the acrylic glass functions as a filter through which the respective painting is seen, which means that the paintings are exhibited under somewhat forced conditions that don’t reveal their actual colors. Some works are even covered by cases that are so darkly colored that the shapes and contents of the paintings they supposedly contain are not properly visible. The images that visitors would normally see are left in a pending state of unrecognizability, and the viewer who looks at them is confused. As our vision is unable to permeate the colored acrylic glass, the desire to see the works inside is brilliantly bounced off by the solid glass, and the fact that we cannot see the paintings eventually causes in us an intense feeling of stress.
photo by Ken KATO
“Showing works one can’t actually see” is an exhibition style that I’ve seen before in a different form. In the “Exhibition of Six Artists 2015” (The Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, September 5 – October 18, 2015), Uchiumi did such stupefying things as hide his works in a glass case behind the wall on which other artists’ works were displayed. Only part of the glass case was visible, but for the most part the visitor’s view was obstructed by the wall in front of it, so most of the works were virtually not visible. As it wasn’t possible to look at the works straight from the front, the only way to see them was to peek to the left and right through the opening in the wall, which made it extremely difficult for the visitor to see the individual works properly, and get a complete view of Uchiumi’s exhibition. According to the artist, at the time he was feeling that a painting comes with “the desire to see it” attached to it.
photo by Ken KATO
This is how Satoshi Uchiumi stirs up our cognition. This exhibition was an occasion that made me strongly aware of the desire to see paintings, along with the stress one feels when that isn’t possible. While pretending to always create similar paintings by the same simple method, he presents innovative ways of looking at paintings, and thereby questions the stereotype ideas that our definition of painting has been based on.
I’m already looking forward to seeing what Uchiumi will come up with for his next exhibition!
UCHIUMI SATOSHI EXHIBITION " Every moment "
2018.10.09 - 10.20