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MAT Exhibition vol.2
"Something of Painting"
Review | Kazuo Amano

An exhibition with the word “painting” in its title was held in a brand-new space Minatomachi POTLUCK BUILDING.

Dealing with the medium that has been sentenced to death repeatedly in art history, yet still plays the central role in various aspects in art, is certainly significant. It was an attempt to grasp how painting/ painting to be get generated today rather than trying to prolong its validity, in this particular city of Nagoya, that used to produce numbers of great painters in the past.

Although there were three talk sessions held during the exhibition period, hosted by three museum curators including Mr. Shima and myself, who have curated relatively large-scaled exhibitions focused on paintings in the past, the first 2 sessions didn’t even invite any of the participants of the exhibition. After inviting artists born in 70’s for the first session, in 80’s for the second session, 4 artists who are all engaged with the medium of painting along with medium other than painting, participated in the exhibition finally got invited as guests to give a talk in the last session. It was obvious that Katsuhisa Sato, an artist who organized the exhibition, intentionally selected the guests above in each session.

This is what Sato wrote on the flyer of the exhibition; “We aim to examine artists who paint, not for the sake of living. What if we pursue painting that has never been made before? We need to adapt something from outside no matter what.” It is all said here. Since it has been specially treated, the medium painting got itself into a dead end. His statement implies not only difficulties he faces but also anger he feels towards the situation.

So how did the actual sessions go? It was apparent that each artist has a different approach towards external surroundings of painting. Although I have no intention to call the guests at the first session “not conscious about external surroundings at all”, they were most aware of art history and techniques. Guests at the second session were diverse but they all engage with painting firmly, trying to figure out the relation between external and internal surroundings. The participants of the exhibition showed up for the last session as I mentioned previously- I don’t apply generation theory, nor believe the younger you are the more innovative.

There was this uniformity among artists who actually participated the exhibition. Works by 4 different artists seemed as if they belong to the same artist in a solo exhibition. There were different materials used apparently, which remain uncompleted and confront external things. The walls were movable and works got rearranged 4 times during the exhibition period. I only got to see one of the arrangements and I suppose most of viewers were the same.

Now that it is rather common to examine art works in a real-world context, that had been considered external of the realm of painting, and methods have been searched in various occasions.
Indeed, the surface of paintings that turned back to materials, with subtle illusion remains on, seemed to get shuffled and influenced by the walls to generate various aspects as an installation which is subject to the materials. The fluctuations spread out rather than producing tension.

It should be noted that the youngest among all artists, Gakudai Kawasumi sticks to the act of “seeing” prior to “painting”, however his interpretation is based on so-called “primitive epistemology” as if we see with naked eyes, in terms of ignoring the fact that we all have numerous picturesque images imprinted already. There hasn’t been “painting that has never been made before” appeared yet. The interpretation and work are not as satisfactory as they should be, however, there is a possibility. Let’s see what is going to be made out of the situation that has been loosened up with no elaboration.

Kazuo Amano

Art Critic