Boundaries delimit edges of communities and norms beyond which can lie transgression. This group exhibition of contemporary artists from Japan, presented as part of Japan Now North, pushes at the boundaries of form and identity, challenging contemporary art practice, generic constraints, and social expectations, including what British audiences may expect from women artists from Japan.
Artist Yurie Nagashima made a sensational debut with a series of nude photographs featuring herself and her family in 1993, winning the second annual Urbanart award (Parco Gallery in Tokyo), and later receiving the 26th Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2000. We are delighted to be showing exceptional works from her recent series “about home”, an installation including a tent made of different materials from Nagashima’s house, created together with her mother, and printed photographs of varying sizes. The installation and photographs combine to address the lack of visibility and value of female experiences in a male-dominated society.
Rie Iwatake makes works through the observation of existing images and objects, abstracting them in relation to their characteristics of form, separate from their original function. This exhibition will include works from her “Bodyscape” series, collaged from Shunga books, and also a selection of lithographic prints from her latest series “Room”. Her collage works in particular draw from Japanese traditions of printmaking and culture, but through her sensitive manipulation are re-imagined into contemporary works.
In Tsunegi’s works there is a subversive element at play. Often, what the viewer comes to comprehend of the sculptures through their initial encounter goes through a process of re-examination and change. Her works defy definition, exploring issues of gender and materiality, while also retaining a playful quality. Included in this exhibition is a selection of her recent works exploring identity, among other themes.
Louise Rouse, a British illustrator and printmaker and long-term resident in Tokyo. Her illustrations and prints are of an impeccably high standard of craftsmanship, with themes and motifs that connect with the everyday lives of people in Japan and abroad. In this exhibition, Rouse will present a set of frottage books produced in three locations in Tokyo by taking rubbings from building façades and other exterior surfaces. She will be conducting a special workshop in Sheffield to introduce some of her methods and ideas though hands-on participation.
The works of these four exceptional artists represent a wide range of media and genres, but all are engaged with issues relating to contemporary culture in multifaceted and meaningful ways. Interconnected themes, such as identity, space, materiality and the body, are woven into a broader discussion on contemporary culture in Japan, and further still beyond the local towards more universal themes.