The Future of Memories: Asian/ Japanese Art and The Way of Life in The Post-war EraCurated by Nobuo Takamori

The Future of Memories: Asian/ Japanese Art and The Way of Life in The Post-war Era
Curated by Nobuo Takamori

2024.7.20 - 9.14


Press Release

The Future of Memories: Asian/ Japanese Art and The Way of Life in The Post-war Era
Curated by Nobuo Takamori

Venue: nca | nichido contemporary art
Date: 7.20 (sat.) ~ 9.14 (sat.) 2024 / gallery hours: Tue – Sat 11:00 – 19:00
(Closed on Sun., Mon., and on National Holydays)

Curator Talk: 7.20 (sat.) 15:30~17:00
Featuring Nobuo Takamori (onsite interpreter: Lily Ikeda)
To register
Opening reception: 7.20 (sat.) 17:00 ~ 19:00

Artists: Yasuo Kazuki / Chuta Kimura / Ryo Hirano / Setsuko Migishi / Shin Miyazaki / Kazu Wakita
Monira Al Qadiri / Cheng Jen-Pei / Dan Isomura / Gan Chin Lee / Shu-Kai Lin / Chulayarnnon Siriphol

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present The Future of Memories: Asian/ Japanese Art and The Way of Life in The Post-war Era, a group show curated by Taiwanese curator Nobuo Takamori. The exhibition puts together paintings by Japanese modern masters represented by galerie nichido with a selection of works by Asian contemporary artists. By showcasing modern and contemporary artworks together, the exhibition wishes to embark on a journey through time and space, making room for a conversation about Asia’s current issues while touching upon its history.


It was during the Cold War years that Asia as we know it today came to be, shaped by the high economic growth that several Asian countries experienced, and a new modern Asian lifestyle also emerged. As Asia’s economic leader in the post-war period, Japan, with its lifestyle and popular culture, deeply influenced the entire continent while living itself through a period of high economic growth. However, behind wealth and industrialization lie issues such as industrial history, energy crises, and Cold War conflicts. The Future of Memories aims to explore the future that lives inside our memory, or, we should say, a sort of futurism from a nostalgic perspective. By engaging in a dialogue between paintings of post-war Japanese modern masters and works of contemporary Asian artists, we hope to recreate a journey through time and space.
The exhibition showcases post-war Japanese art masterpieces from the collection of Galerie Nichido, which includes works by WAKITA Kazu, MIGISHI Setsuko, KAZUKI Yasuo, MIYAZAKI Shin, HIRAO Ryo, and KIMURA Chuta. KAZUKI Yasuo (b. 1911, Yamaguchi prefecture) was detained in a Siberian POW camp after the war. Many of his paintings can be seen as his memories of life during his internment, presenting dark and heavy themes. MIYAZAKI Shin (b. 1922, Yamaguchi prefecture) who also had experienced being detained as a prisoner of war in Siberia, absorbed Western modern art trends through his travels, turning this into the foundation of his artistic practice. In addition to artists who "returned to Japan", there were also artists who left the country. The tough economic situation in Japan in the early post-war years and the relatively closed nature of Japan’s modern art circle pushed post-war artists to try their luck abroad. KIMURA Chuta (b. 1917, Kagawa prefecture) moved to Paris in 1953 where he remained until his death. Although Kimura's work was influenced by French modern technics, it can also be seen as an important expression of post-war Japanese painting.
MIGISHI Setsuko (b. 1905, Aichi prefecture) was the wife of the pre-war famous surrealist painter MIGISHI Kotaro. While Kotaro passed away at an early age, Setsuko remained active in the art circle after the war. In 1946 she helped establish the Association of Women Painters (Joryū Gaka Kyōkai). After moving to France in 1954 to continue her work, Migishi returned to Japan only in her later years. HIRANO Ryo (b. 1927, Oita prefecture) is another example of post-war Japanese life. After a time when he earned a living drawing posters for the U.S. military, Hirano fought against poverty through self-study and gradually developed his unique painting style. WAKITA Kazu (b. 1908, Tokyo metropolis), perhaps embodies the most representative artist of that generation. After studying in Germany before the war, Wakita carried on with his work also in the years after and went on to become one of the exhibiting artists at the Japanese Pavilion of the first São Paulo Biennale in 1951. The work and lives of these postwar Japanese masters serve as a window for us to take a peek at and understand that time.
In addition, the exhibition presents a group of contemporary artists from different Asian countries who have been invited to collaboratively construct the socio-cultural context from the post-war period to the present. Thai artist Chulayarnnon SIRIPHOL focuses on the historical traces left behind by the cooperation between Japan and Thailand during World War II, and how post-war Japanese consumerism and popular culture reshaped the image of female figures. Malaysian artist GAN Chin Lee’s painting depicts the New Village set up by the British army in the early days of the Cold War to encircle and suppress the Communist Party of Malaya. Gan's paintings also give voice to the increased complexity of Malaysia's diverse society due to the influx of migrant workers in the era of globalization. The artist uses this to address post-war universal phenomena.
Kuwaiti artist Monira AL QADIRI recalls the oil fields of her childhood memories, where the mysterious and majestic oil refineries blend with her child’s fantasies. From the perspective of a senior Japanese audience, however, the oil crisis that happened during the Cold War period still represents a profound memory. From the 1970s to the 1980s, with the development of Japan’s industry, the relatively basic OEM industry re-settled to Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries. Taiwanese artist Shu-Kai LIN's family-operated aluminum mold factory has also succumbed to Taiwan's industrial changes in recent years before closing down. Nevertheless, his works, assembled into futuristic cities created using his father’s handcrafted models, serve as some fort of window throw which memory and the future are tied together. The photography works by Yokohama-based, Taiwanese artist CHENG Jen-Pei offer an insight into Japan’s contemporary life and food culture from a foreigner’s perspective. Her works simultaneously hint at the increasingly ethnically-diverse fabric of Japan’s society nowadays and its lifestyle.
The exhibition also features paintings by contemporary Japanese artist Dan ISOMURA. Isomura's works distort the human body while mixing it up with the artist’s own concepts of memory. When juxtaposed with works by postwar generation’s Japanese masters, Isomura's creations reveal the intriguing evolution that Japanese painting went through over the decades. Japanese postwar artists indeed developed sophisticated painting narratives in a moment of such national economic prosperity that it became known as the representative memory of that time. Meanwhile, on the contemporary side, the Asian artists on view are engaged in an attempt to reconstruct the future of the past through their memories and research, depicting the contemporary Asian-life experience in the process.

Nobuo Takamori / Independent Curator

Takamori Nobuo is a Taiwanese independent curator with Japanese descent, he is currently based at Taipei, Taiwan. Takamori works as chief-curator of 2021 Asian Arts Biennial, Phantasmapolis, organized by National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, which aims to described the futurism and sci-fi perspective inside Asian contemporary art. He is also the Assistant Professor of Taipei National University of Arts (part-time position). For more than a decade, Takamori’s curatorial work and research project aims to evoke the hidden linkage between Taiwan and Southeast Asia, with practical exchange project for encourage the interaction of contemporary art from both sides. Takamori’s notable projects include “Post-Actitud” (2011, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico DF), “South country, South of Country” (2012, Zero Station, Ho Chi Minh City & Howl Space, Tainan), Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition 2014 “The Return of Ghosts” (Hong Gah Museum, Taipei), “Is/In Land: Mongolian-Taiwanese Contemporary Art Exchange Project” (2018, Art Space 976+, Ulaanbaatar & Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei) and “The Secret South: from Cold War Perspective to Global South in Museum Collection” (2020, Taipei Fine Arts Museum).

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