Kazuya Sakamoto: Between Breaths

Kazuya Sakamoto: Between Breaths

2016 9.30 - 10.29

Opening Reception
9.30 (Fri) 18:00 - 20:00

©Kazuya Sakamoto
Press Release

Place: nca | nichido contemporary art
Date: Friday 30th September - Saturday 29th October, 2016
Gallery hours: Tue - Sat 11:00 - 19:00 (Closed on Sunday, Monday and National holidays)
Opening reception: 30th September 18:00 - 20:00 (The artist will be in attendance of the first day opening of the exhibition)

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present “Between Breaths” a solo exhibition of artist Kazuya Sakamoto.
Through his interest in growing waterweeds in aquariums, Sakamoto has observed similarities between such ecosystems, society and his own environment, leading him to consistently represent these plants as central theme of his recent works.
Plentiful species that grow intricately entwined, they each embody a strong sense of existence which leaves behind its many traces on the surface. This exhibition features one large scale work (over 5 meters), as well as new creations.

Just do it! Paint in the Water

Kazuya Sakamoto is still not a particularly well-known painter but he is one worth paying attention to.

This is because it is clear that his paintings are already, in some important sense, complete works. Which is to say that he has succeeded in the mission he has set out for himself—the task of combining a laid-back approach with suffering in a way that has hitherto not been attempted by other artists.

Sakamoto’s paintings are oriented toward a proliferation of free-moving vectors—a feeling that stands in diametrical opposition to the sense of claustrophobia hanging over our current age. In all likelihood, the more that the artist feels the difficulties of living in this modern world of ours, the more his brush, his paint will rise up against it, and sing of joy, freedom, abundance. His discovery of this mechanism within himself is both a burden and a joy. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The works, described by the artist as depicting plants in the water, sit perched on the line between the figurative/abstract dichotomy, and that of the inner/outer world. They represent, as it were, the very slashes themselves. If the canvas is covered in green paint, it is simultaneously covered in plants. The paintings appear to be composed of many layers, and yet they are also entirely superficial. They are both spectacle and anti-spectacle. Sakamoto knows that staying right there at the zero-point where the slash lies, the spot where no conclusions can be drawn, is the way to summon laid-back open-mindedness. Yet that place lies underwater, and it is hard to breathe.

There is a lesser-known series of works by the Los Angeles based Japanese artist Yutaka Sone painting the palm-trees that he can see from his LA home. The city has a similar climate all the year round, and while the palms do undergo minute changes, there are no major alterations in their appearance. The routine task of continuing to depict these trees is in roughly equal parts an expression of joy and an ascetic practice. Sakamoto’s canvases are extremely close in nature to this.

Such artwork is possible only for those in touch with the simplicity of ‘just doing something’. What a difficult pursuit that ‘just doing’ is within our current information society—and what a joyous one. Most likely, Sakamoto doesn’t even think about such things. He just does what he does.

All this is not to say that Sakamoto abstains from that which life has to offer, for that would imply a sense of resistance or rebellion. That is not the case here. ‘Just doing it’ is not an act of abstention; it is what Sakamoto does. He just paints. Perhaps he has held his breath underwater, has immersed himself so fully that his paintbrush now appears to him to have become one of the plants themselves. Perhaps the plants have entwined themselves around his brush and are moving it for him. There is no way for us to know. All we have access to are the pictures. We must open our eyes under the water and take a good look at them.

Independent curator / Art critic
Mizuki Endo

1985 Born in Tottori, Japan
2014 MFA, Contemporary Arts, Nagoya University of Art, Aichi, Japan | 2012 BFA, Painting, Nagoya University of Art, Aichi, Japan
Solo Exhibitions: (upcoming) "Kazuya Sakamoto" Yonago City Museum of Art (2017) *upcoming / ALA Project No9 Kazuya Sakamoto", ART LAB AICHI, Aichi (2012)
Selected Group Exhibitions: "nca new generation project – Sensing Body", nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2015) / “Fruitfulness - Contemporary Art in Toyokawa”, Toyokawa City Sakuragaoka Museum, Aichi (2015) / "Arts Challenge 2015", Aichi Arts Center, Aichi / "Some Like It Witty", Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong and others.

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