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Photos by Adam Reich

September 5 - November 2, 2019

Motohide Takami Symbol, 2019 Oil and chalk on panel 64.2 x 51.2 x 1.8 inches (163 x 130 x 4.4 cm)

In September, SEIZAN Gallery New York will celebrate its one year anniversary with the opening of its newly expanded gallery space at 521 W. 26th St. To inaugurate the new space, we present the solo exhibition of Japanese painter Motohide Takami (b. 1986). Fires on Another Shore will be the artist’s first solo exhibition outside of Japan. It will feature twelve recent works that delve into the artist's investigation into the limits of human empathy, with references to social events and historic disasters.   

Compelling and dreamy, the powerful imagery of Motohide Takami brings the viewer deeper into his landscapes: a house on a riverbank on fire, the portrait of the Japanese royal family juxtaposed with a Buddhist pagoda. Motohide Takami explores the limitations of the idea of the individual, of compassion and of what it is to be human in today’s society.

After studying art and design at University of Toyama, Takami continued on to graduate school at Tohoku University of Art in Yamagata. The Great Earthquake of 2011 occurred while he was there. Viewers can see the inevitable impact of the disaster and its aftermath on his subject matter. Takami examines contradictory human behaviors when one faces disastrous events at different degrees of separation. Takami created a series of a house or car in flames by the riverside, referring to the Japanese expression, "fire on the other side of the river.” Going beyond its ironic meaning of “somebody else’s business,” Takami’s ominous and tranquil landscapes challenge us to consider our place in relation to the disaster or tragic events. 

Takami's creative process starts with setting up a pre-made model or diorama in his studio. Instead of sketching drafts, he photographs the diorama in its finished composition and lighting, then recreates the image in oil and chalk on canvas. In the process, the paintings become more remote and symbolic. When working with subjects that hold more direct references to historic events, such as Soyuz 1, the first manned rocket to result in a fatality, or a German boom concrete pump used to cool nuclear reactors in Fukushima after 3/11, he makes them appear “real but also a universal image.” They are not merely "a fearful episode from history, but something that captures a certain aspect of humanity that is not confined to the past and could occur again, in a different form, in the future.”

Takami and Seiko Yamada, the owner of SEIZAN Gallery, will be present at the opening reception on Thursday, September 5, 6-8pm. 

The catalog for the exhibition with an accompanying essay by independent curator Shannon Anderson, will be available at the gallery. 

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