Garden of Light

Garden of Light

2024.01.20 - 2024.02.10 *extended the period for a week until 2024.02.17

HAMADA Ryo / WATANABE Naoko curated by ISHII Masanobu

Outline of the exhibition

Garden of Light Hamada Ryo / Watanabe Naoko

The meaning of "Visual art" is, after all, how light is projected onto an object and the reflected light is delivered to the retina of the viewer. This light is transmitted as a signal to the brain through the optic nerve and is recognized as an image. Here, the recognized color and shape is then left to the viewer to interpret. Is this just a mere pleasant visual experience, or is it taken as a political message, or is it interpreted as something else? It is a characteristic of the installation of an excellent work to be able to have ambiguity without falling into an unambiguous interpretation.

The works of Hamada Ryo and Watanabe Naoko that will be introduced in this exhibition have their own characteristic colors. If we look at the relationship between the art and colors, it is possible to see that these two are artists who are conscious of the existence of light. In addition, what these two artists have in common is that they incorporate problems of modern art into their works. This means that they stand apart from art created by marketing or entrusted with an easy social message.

Hamada has changed his paintbrush to a camera and creates flat artworks that present "something" concealed in everyday life with photographs. Blurred images, manipulated and defocused by light, are matched to scenes that may have been once encountered somewhere in the viewer's memory. While looking closely at the never-before-seen colors and dim outlines, something like déjà vu finally emerges and this is a clue to facing Hamada's work. Hamada's art, which stops the viewer's gaze for a while, questions the sense of vision of modern people who demand a quick conclusion, such as recognizing ambiguous memories as clues or creating an optical illusion that can be perceived at a glance.

On the other hand, Watanabe is a painter who consistently creates abstract paintings. The death of paintings has been advocated many times since the invention of photography, and various alternative media have emerged and the expression of art itself has become diversified. In every age, artists have contended to overcome the various problems of painting that could lead to its death, and to produce new paintings while adopting new concepts and methodologies according to the times. In recent years, Watanabe's paintings, which depict the theme of "coexistence in contrast", have been characterized by powerful strokes and creative colors. The drawn lines are filled with violent movement, and the colors coexist with each other while repeatedly coming into opposition and fusing. On the canvas, the conventions of traditional painting, such as perspective, chiaroscuro, and adjustments of hues, do not exist. What is there is nothing but an unknown image in which colors and strokes that are illuminated by light are generated by collision, arbitration and harmony.

In the gallery of MARUEIDO JAPAN, the venue of this exhibition, light is effectively functioning to draw out the appeal points of the work. This gallery, located on the first floor of a high-rise building facing the sidewalk, has a seamless structure wherein the sidewalk and the gallery are separated by a single glass wall with a continuous aspect of outside and inside, and it is a space where the people who are coming and going on the sidewalk can easily enter. Just like how you visit beautiful sun-filled gardens and enjoy natural beauty, you should also stop by this gallery which is full of the light emitted by the art of Hamada and Watanabe. I can only hope that this exhibition will be visually beautiful and a pleasant art experience for those who visit this pure white space overflowing with the light of MARUEIDO JAPAN, which has become a garden of artistic beauty.

Ishii Masanobu (Independent Curator)

ISHII Masanobu
Independent curator. Born in Tokyo in 1968. Majored in Western art history at the Department of Art Studies, Faculty of Letters, Meiji Gakuin University. He has been in charge of the planning and management of art exhibitions at Seibu Department Store since 1991. In 1999, he worked as a gallery director of the Sasion Art Program and a curator of the Sezon Museum of Modern Art. He has been working freelance since 2007 and is involved in exhibition planning and the establishment and operation of corporate art museums. Since 2015, he has been the Art Director of the Sezon Museum of Modern Art and after becoming the Museum Operations Director, he has been in his current role since 2021.