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Focus features two in-depth reviews each month of fine art, architecture and design exhibitions and events at art museums, galleries and alternative spaces around Japan. The contributors are non-Japanese art critics living in Japan.

Takashi Yasumura/Satoru Eguchi: Things in a place
Jeffrey Rosen
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The exhibition "Things in a place" at Misako & Rosen Gallery in Otsuka, Tokyo juxtaposes the work of two Japanese artists working in different media. Takashi Yasumura is a relatively accomplished contemporary photographer, while Satoru Eguchi is an emerging Japanese artist based in New York; Eguchi's chosen media is somewhat less easy to define. Each artist deals with image as representation, yet reality as presented has a remarkably awkward and unfamiliar presence.

Yasumura, already well regarded for his photo series and book Domestic Scandals, has in the past exhibited images of the particular and peculiarly Japanese domestic environment in which he was raised and in which his family still resides. These images juxtaposed a 1970s palette and decorative sensibility with highly contemporary yet modest objects and, on occasion, people. The work on view, however, is more focused in content: all images are exterior landscapes. By limiting his range, Yasumura gains a greater level of apparent objectivity and closeness to detail -- yet somewhat paradoxically, this clarity results in an even more uncanny sense of unreality than his more public past photographs. The rigid geometry of a series of stairs set against a speckled red ground takes on an almost sculptural appearance; pink flowers against a bright orange brick -- perhaps fake brick -- wall, or a patterned curb and shuttered door, all appear as objects of creative intent rather than banal things in a place. Yasumura manages to use the simple geometry and everyday color of reality to re-present a hidden strangeness present in the act of seeing. A certain brand of uncertainty is reintroduced to the straightforward, non-manipulated photographic image.

The work of Satoru Eguchi is essentially that of drawing realized in sculptural form. Not unlike another artist of the previous generation, Berlin-based Thomas Demand, Eguchi manipulates the plastic possibilities of paper and cardboard to extend the possibilities of one genre by considering it though the medium of another.

While Demand is essentially a sculptor working in the medium of photography (creating to-scale environments and objects entirely from paper and then photographing and/or filming said objects), Eguchi has an interest in the immediacy of drawing. Yet to consider to its fullest the potential of the representative space of drawing, he finds it necessary to craft from the flat media of ink, paint, color pencil, etc. on paper a series of three-dimensional objects. On view at Misako & Rosen are objects constructed to scale of things observed in the Tokyo gallery prior to installation, and things observed in the artist's own New York studio, whose very real physical presence serves to further confuse perception. Scattered amongst these sculptural forms are actual non-drawn objects which further complicate the distinction between object and its drawn representation realized in three-dimensional form.

Perhaps best representative of the successful dialogue realized between these two like-minded abstractionists -- each artist simplifies reality to realize the real in all its complicated and confused uncertainty -- is a small painting created on-site following Yasumura's installation. A small painted image on paper by Eguchi of the aforementioned stairs and red-carpet photographic image originally realized by Yasumura serves to raise further issues about the reality of representation and perception. A multi-layered and self-referential image, the modest painting points towards future collaborative explorations by this promising and emerging pair of artists.

(Disclosure: Jeffrey Ian Rosen is involved in the organization and operation of Misako & Rosen Gallery.)

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All images:
"Takashi Yasumura/Satoru Eguchi: Things in a place"
Installation view at MISAKO & ROSEN, 2008-2009
Photography by Kei Okano
Takashi Yasumura/Satoru Eguchi: Things in a place
MISAKO & ROSEN
15 December 2008 - 18 January 2009
image
Jeffrey Ian Rosen
Prior to moving to Tokyo, where he has been based for the past 5 years, Jeffrey Ian Rosen was a co-director of Low, a contemporary art space in Los Angeles, California. Jeffrey is presently a co-director of Tokyo gallery spaces, Taka Ishii Gallery and gallery.sora.; with both spaces he is involved in the introduction of an emerging generation of international contemporary artists to the Japanese art community.
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