MESS JAPAN: Solo Exhibit by DAISUKE ICHIBA
04/05/2010 - 26/05/2010
MESS JAPAN: A SOLO EXHIBIT BY DAISUKE ICHIBA
May 4-26, 2010 at aceartinc. - 290 McDermot, 2nd Flr.
Opening May 4, 5-7pm | Curator Talk May 4, 6pm
Daisuke Ichiba’s images are violent and beautiful. His paintings describe a delicate world haunted by Japanese phantasms and grotesqueries of moral contradictions; a world where youth and sex mingle with corruption and death. The rooms into which the viewer peeks are forbidden, as if a sliding door has been drawn back on a scene reenacted from a gothic past. This first North American exhibit will feature recent paintings and photography, as well as a selection of screenprinted books from his collection.
Humans simultaneously combine tenderness and violence. If you peel back the face of a beautiful woman you see it is clogged with viscera. Choosing to create work that is only beautiful feels artificial. Thus I paint both. You cannot sever the two. The expression that results is a natural chaos. In my work I project chaos, anarchy, anxiety, the grotesque, the absurd, and the irrational. By doing so I attain harmony. This is my art. Put simply, I paint humanity (the spirit). - Daisuke Ichiba
Daisuke Ichiba started painting seriously in the eighties and in 1990 self-published his first book entitled 37 Year Old Bastard. Since then, he has continued to release a book a year, and was noticed by the great manga artist Takashi Nemoto, as well as Pakito, from the outsider art gallery, Le Dernier Cri based in Marseille, France. Since 2006, Ichiba has held solo shows in Paris, Marseille, and Switzerland, and in recent years has been pursuing photography.
“Great art is always flanked by its dark sisters, blasphemy and pornography.”
- Geoffrey Hartman
We first came across the work of Daisuke Ichiba a few years ago, through the underground French publisher, Le Dernier Cri. We had just returned to Toronto after having lived in Tokyo for four years, and though we had scoured the city for artists like Ichiba while we were there, he had escaped our radar; like most Japanese underground artists, he has a larger renown in Europe than in his home country. We ended up in Paris for a week in early 2008 and made plans to meet with his representative in a café to look at some of his original paintings. We had already visited Un Regard Moderne, a bookstore on Rue Gît le Coeur, stuffed with towers of underground art books, small press zines and manga, and bought them out of their Ichiba merchandise; screen printed books, posters, as well as a pink screen printed stuffed doll. For us, Ichiba’s stark ink paintings described something essentially Japanese and tapped into a well-spring of palpable nostalgia. In retrospect, we’ve come to realize that the images he creates, while featuring Japanese iconography (the school girl, daruma, yokai), evoke something that doesn’t belong to Japan alone. The dialogue between the “mask” and its reverse is one that was introduced to us while living in Japan, where there is a legacy of culture around this concept (noh, kabuki, kosupure, and the notorious fetishes of the seemingly normal salary man), but it is something that exists in all contemporary cultures. How does one reconcile society’s ideal with the truth of our natural origins and desires? The beautiful with the abject?
Daisuke Ichiba isn’t afraid to explore the taboo realm where contradictory truths of human nature coexist. The monsters are not an “other”, they are part of us. The shadows draw us in at the same time that they repel us. The violence is not to be ignored; it is an act we commit upon ourselves. Ichiba’s work invokes the imagination like the literary masters before him: Mishima’s decadent violence, Kyoka Izumi’s “literature of shadows”, Edogawa Ranpo’s perverse gothic tales, and the haunted folklore that preceded them all. He meditates on sexuality and death and the intangible cord that ties them together. Ichiba’s haunting tableaus are a type of contemporary shunga (Edo-period erotic scrolls), in which beauty navigates chaos with one eye closed.
By facilitating an exhibit of this nature, we hope to encourage discussion of the alternative side of the kawaii mask – the shadowed and under-represented side – in order to expand the critical discourse on contemporary Japanese art.
- Naomi & Brandon Hocura
Naomi Hocura does a lot of things; some real, some imaginary. While living in Tokyo for four years she developed a taste for the under-represented under-belly of Japanese art and culture, and is now involved in curatorial projects that bring her discoveries to the public. She manages the newly formed blog/group, ANGURA! (http://www.angura.tumblr.com), which coordinates screenings, exhibits and performances of Japanese art from the margins. Naomi lives in Toronto, where she makes long To-Do lists, plays bass in VOWLS, and writes fiction.
Brandon Hocura is a musician and curator living in Toronto. He has an academic background in film and art history, and spent four years in Tokyo immersing himself in Japanese art, music and culture. In 2007, he founded Function13 Store & Gallery in Toronto, and currently curates independently. Brandon now spends most of his time writing, recording and producing music in his home studio. He is currenty a member of the psychedelic group VOWLS and cosmic travellers Alpine Continuum.