We are pleased to present the group exhibition “Protectors of Love and Peace (Tentative)” from April 23 to May 28, 2022.
Yutaka Kikutake Gallery has developed various gallery programs in tow with our vision to sprint through and beyond the times while firmly keeping our ground, and have released numerous publications to date including the independent magazine疾駆／chic. Extending beyond the field of contemporary art, we find value in how the imagination of artists inspires our everyday lives.
In times in which it is becoming difficult for us to convey the state of one’s mind and feel the appearance of others, we decided to create an opportunity to present the works of artists who continue to express their own volition. We believe that communicating one’s thoughts in turn enables us to feel the thoughts and minds of others. We hope that the exhibition will serve as a place where viewers can gain a sense of the various values that each individual cherishes and holds dear, through engaging with the works of artists who actively confront their thoughts and express the complexity of the mind truly for what it is.
In the background of planning this exhibition is the war in Ukraine that broke out at the end of February this year. As with many, we had been deeply pained by these recent events. In considering what we could do now at this very point in time, we decided to organize a group exhibition working together with six artists. We plan to donate part of the proceeds from the works sold in this exhibition, as well as the proceeds of the original charity can badge produced with the cooperation of artist Yoshitomo Nara, who is also an exhibitor of this exhibition, to the activity funds of charitable organizations including the Red Cross.
Masao Nakahara, who lives and works in Germany, presents new works produced in the times leading up to and during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Since his days as a student at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, he has depicted various scenes that come to his mind through tracing his personal memories. Nakahara recommenced his artistic practice several years ago, having taken a temporary break from art after completing his studies at the academy. He has written a statement to accompany his work presented in the exhibition, which visitors are also invited to read.
Yoshitomo Nara has continued to express his thoughts on anti-war, anti-nuclear, love, and peace through his work ever since commencing his career as an artist in the 1980s. His paintings and drawings are not a plea towards society, but rather are a natural manifestation of his hopes as an individual that had been nurtured over the course of his everyday life. Since being used by participants of an antinuclear demonstration in Bangkok several years before the Great East Japan Earthquake, Nara’s “No Nukes” has become an icon for antinuclear protests movements throughout the world. The volition and message that Nara straight-forwardly expresses through his work, instills courage in those of us who are unable to speak out alone, and is indeed a symbol for hope.
Futoshi Miyagi, who reweaves his own experiences into his work while drawing ties to themes such as sexuality and his hometown of Okinawa, had also come to explore to what degree he can empathize with stories outside of himself. His works capture scenes that characters in a different place or point in time from him would have seen and the emotions they would have felt, giving rise to narratives that evoke universal human emotions such as kindness and pain. A text written by the artist in relation to the exhibited work will also be distributed at the venue for visitors to read.
The girls with their eyes closed as painted in Kyoko Murase’s work, drift through air and water together with the trees and leaves, giving the impression as if the work itself is some kind of living plant life. However, the worlds depicted by Murase are always inspired by her own bodily sensations, and while harboring a certain sense of suppleness, appear radiant with much vitality. Such works by Murase, who albeit somewhat passively engages with painting with true fortitude and commitment, serve to shine a light on us living today.
Lieko Shiga always produces work together with others, such as people from communities rooted in the region in which she resides, as well as those who she meets on her travels. While society becomes increasingly complex day after day, Shiga continues to place importance on sharing her own experiences and feelings with others and facilitating discussion through her practice. In contemporary society that tends to be biased towards visual information, Shiga’s works convey to us the very nature of the human body and the fundamental percipience and preciousness of the emotions arising from it.
Erika Kobayashi was motivated to pursue her career as an artist as a result of continuously questioning the words of Anne Frank, “My desire is to live on after death” –which she had encountered as a child. In her work, Kobayashi traces records of historical events that fascinate her, and transcribes the voices she encounters during her travels to related locations in the form “stories.” Kobayashi, who considers “everything about life to be literature,” draws connections between her own biography and the voices of those that remain unheard or have been overlooked throughout history, and in doing so attempts to present them as narratives.
As Japan reached a period of high economic growth in the wake of reconstruction efforts after WWII, and everyday life had become increasingly enriched and developed, efforts came to be channeled towards envisioning and contemplating the future. Drawing inspiration from the illustration style of manga written in those times and the future that these stories envisioned, Yuya Hashizume contemplates whether there is such thing as an unimaginable future in the context of today’s world where it has technically become easier to gain an outlook of what is to come, and if so, the kind of stories that may arise there. Through an image of a figure with a single tear falling from their eyes, the artist encourages us viewers to consider these questions.
Shomei Tomatsu (1930-2012) was 15 years old when WWII came to an end, at which time he witnessed a significant shift from prior values. When he started working as a photographer in the mid-1950s, he photographed people living in various parts of postwar Japan, attempting to capture the despair, anger, joy and surprise that they harbored. Furthermore, as a photographer he had expressed interest in the new culture that was born through the nation’s postwar reconstruction efforts and the relationship between Japan and the US that lay in its backdrop from an early stage, publishing many works, and also having a large influence photographers of future generations. Tomatsu’s work can be seen as conveying the hearts and minds of those who had to live out such times in which politics and economy was significantly changing the world.