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Photos by GION

May 5 - June 30, 2022

SEIZAN Gallery is pleased to present Bucket Boy & Inchworm, the solo exhibition of Japanese artist, Kaz Watabe. On view from May 5 through June 30, 2022, the show presents thirteen new oil paintings by Watabe. This is his first solo exhibition in the United States. 


With muted color and meticulous brushwork, Kaz Watabe creates a tranquil, introspective world populated by whimsical characters. His paintings resemble scenes out of a modern fantasy animation: a boy with a tin bucket on his head sits on a contraption made of garbage and speaks to a pink monster (Where Are You From? [2022]). A kid in a fluffy sheep costume walks on a garbage strewn field with a frog on his head (Take Your Time [2022]). While some characters appear to be on a long journey with animal companions, others are just discovering one another and embarking on new chapters.  


Watabe’s works contain an  atmosphere of nostalgia and loneliness yet a powerful  yearning for connection and communication with others is present. In Resonate (2022), a tiny boy with bird-like head and wind-up key on his back faces a large monster made of industrial waste. Despite the large difference in size between them, there is no sense of danger. Instead, as the title suggests, they appear to have just met on a long journey and are eager to communicate with each other. In A Flower (2022), Bucket Boy looks down at the city lights, holding a large bowl of just lit fireworks. He is about to throw it into the starry sky, perhaps for the benefit of the city-dwellers below. 


Watabe describes diving very deep into his imagination for his subject matter. The atmosphere and images arrive fully formed. He considers a painting complete once each character becomes “alive” to him. The viewer is invited to complete the narrative around the characters and imagine what happens next. 


Kaz Watabe was born in 1975 in Chiba, Tokyo. He studied oil painting at Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts. SEIZAN Gallery Tokyo has hosted his solo exhibitions since 2011. His works have been included in many group shows. He lives and works in Chiba, Japan. 



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