Shinya Imanishi:Twinkles / Out of focus

Shinya Imanishi:
Twinkles / Out of focus

2024.2.17 - 3.23

©Shinya Imanishi
Press Release

Date: 2.17 (sat.) - 3.23 (sat.), 2024
Gallery hours: tue. - sat. / 11:00 - 19:00 (closed on sun., mon., and on national holidays)
Opening reception: 2.17 (Sat.) 17:00 -

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present Shinya Imanishi’s solo exhibition Twinkles / Out of focus.
Inspired by familiar motifs - the representation of light and all the many ways it transforms, flames, thunders or party crackers to name a few- Imanishi creates paintings through the repetition of a set of actions: first, the artist applies several, thick layers of oil paint to the canvas, then, through a vigorous touch, he leaves visible brushstrokes on the painted surface before scooping out the paint as he goes. Featuring this solo show are new paintings that aim to grasp the dynamics of that very phenomenon that affects all things, namely gradation or where light and shadow meet.
The images that take shape as Imanishi removes the paint to recreate the effect of gradation, reveal a different color each time the viewer’s stance or perspective changes, and it feels as if we are retracing the actual movements and paths of light on the painted surface.
Every time the viewer adjusts their viewing distance or changes their viewpoint, the paintings seem to be revealing a new façade and all those elements and aspects we have come to deem familiar suddenly appear as if wrapped by uncertainty.
The exhibition expands on Imanishi’s Moonlight series and, including one installation work, features a total of 16 new paintings.

Tell me what you see.
Naoko Sumi (Curator at Hiroshima MOCA)
When you are at the park or at the beach, grab a stick and try to scribble something in the sand. Then, lightly scratch the surface: you will notice that the layer of soil underneath will be of a slightly different color, making your scribbles look clearer. Or try to scratch a concrete wall entirely covered with moss and write something silly on it. No doubt we all have entertained ourselves with this kind of diversion at least once in our life, and to me the work Imanishi has been creating through his very specific act of “drawing” feels just as its logical extension. To quickly brush up what such an approach consists of: Imanishi applies layers of different colors to a previously painted surface and allows the layers of color hidden in the back to come to the fore by scooping out the paint from the layers above. While sometimes used in combination with different media, this technique, also referred to as scratching, has been around for a rather surprisingly long time, and we can look at Imanishi’s approach as its latest evolution, or we should say, a rather sophisticated version of it. While when it comes to volume and depth Imanishi’s paintings do indeed bring to mind relief works, oftentimes placed between painting (2D) and sculpture (3D), the artist himself claims to be just creating paintings, “plain and simple”, with no conscious thought at work to make (half) sculptural works.
His new solo show Twinkles/ Out of focus centers around the artist’s series Moonlight. We may be led to believe that this series is about the representation of the light beautifully emitted from the moon, or yet of “light” on its own. However, what it represents through the use of different techniques and approaches, to put it plainly, is the phenomenon of gradation. So, let’s refresh the definition of this word. According to the dictionary, the word gradation indicates 1. a gradual change, or a stage in the process of change. 2. the passing of one tint or shade of color to another by very small degrees, as in painting or on video. Gradation (from Daijisen Shogakukan Dictionary). Basically, it describes a situation where colors and tones gradually change: when we have one color only, the change happens in terms of shading; when it is about two or more colors, one of the colors slowly fades out to make room for another one to gently fade in, and so forth. In Moonlight, Imanishi has been actually experimenting with both patterns. However, this time the artist is playing with two colors: red for the inner layers and blue for the outer ones. Even when we stare at what looks like a completely white screen, we are still witnessing a gradation so gentle to almost passes unnoticed that combines imperceptible tones of red and blue. In addition, as we step into the gallery space and compare (well, rather than a thoughtful comparison, it is more appropriate to call it an instant realization) the first paintings we encounter to the ones closing the exhibition, we may notice an overall, spectacular gradation effect happening throughout the whole 14 canvases on view. And just like that, we are faced by an overwhelming gradation effect simultaneously displayed at different stages and scales: first, the overall gradation effect created by the whole painting ensemble; then, the gradation effect of each single work that we can observe when adjusting our distance from the paintings; and finally, the gradation effect emitted from within each painting and each scratched line of paint when we draw near.
Known as part of both the three primary colors of light and the three primary colors of pigment, red and blue also represent the category of, respectively, warm and cool colors and are used, for instance, as symbols for hot and cold water. Unfortunately, sometimes they are still employed as gender indicators: red for females, blue for males. Well, I guess this sort of clear distinctions can be made for many things and aspects.
As for me, every year I find myself looking forward to seeing the hydrangeas in full bloom. Hydrangeas turn blue, when in strongly acid soil, while they turn red when in alkaline soil. Occasionally they bloom into a sort of purple color, although, rather than a straight purple, it is a color that at times presents reddish tones, at others it seems closer to a bluish-purple.
Hydrangeas provide us with the ultimate example of gradation.
Personally, this new evolution of the Moonlight series reminds me of hydrangeas a little. I understand this may raise a few eyebrows but it really feels that way. I clearly understand that this time Imanishi is not working on the representation of some figurative objects or abstract shapes. I wonder than: wouldn’t it be more correct to say that he is depicting colors? And Imanishi depicts colors that, to our surprise, brilliantly radiate while simultaneously preserving a certain blurred quality, showing the delicate variations they are going through. What lies behind that gradation and its ambiguous tones is surely up to the viewer to decide. We may be staring at the same painting and yet, because of how personal it is our perception of things, we may see something entirely different. And this may well be what the real thrill of painting is about.

Sinya Imanishi
2015 Art Major Painting Field, Kyoto University of Art and Design
Main solo shows: GLIMMERING, THE BRIDGE, Osaka (2023) / caw wac caw, nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2022) / Youkan and Cream, Bijuu gallery space, Kyoto (2021) / Light Exposed, galerie nichido Taipei, Taipei (2020) / Wind, Rain, and your Words, Art Delight, Seoul (2018) / ISANATORI, nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2017).
Main group shows: KANSAI VOICE Vol.2, nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2023) / young okazaki vol.2, MtK Contemporary Art, Kyoto (2022) / Up_01, Tsutaya Ginza, GINZA ATRIUM, Tokyo (2021) / KANSAI VOICE - A journey through painting today-, nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2020) / Shell Art Award, National Art Center Tokyo, Tokyo (2020) / Kyoto Art Tomorrow 2019 - Selected Up-and-coming Artists Exhibition, The Museum of Kyoto, Kyoto (2019) / untamed vol.1, COHJU contemporary art, Kyoto (2019) / Island with ONI, WAITINGROOM, Tokyo (2019) / Japan-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Exhibition Art Collection Exhibition, Warehouse Terrada, Tokyo (2017) / echo of the echoes, Seibu Shibuya, Tokyo (2017) / Gunma Biennale for Young Artists 2017 Museum of Modern Art Gunma, Gunma (2017) / Stars popping out of Chaos, Spiral Garden, Tokyo (2015) / Sensing body, nca | nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2015) / 3331 Art Fair 2015 - Various Collectors’ Prizes -, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo (2015) / Awards and Scholarships: Shell Art Award 2020 - Grand Prix (2020) / The 31st Holbein Scholarship (2015) / Tanaka Hideo Award and Komatsu Junya Award 3331 Art Fair 2015 ‒Various Collectors' Prizes‒ Graduate Award at the Kyoto University of Art and Design completion Exhibition (2015) / Department Award at Kyoto University of Art and Design Graduation Exhibition (2015).

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