Kukje Gallery is pleased to present Hideaki Kawashima: Wandering, an exhibition of new paintings and the artist’s first solo show at the gallery. In preparation for his exhibition Kawashima took up residence in Seoul for four months. The fourteen works he painted during his stay will be presented alongside twenty one works that were completed in his native Japan.
Although he is often grouped together with Neo-Pop artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara, Kawashima’s work is distinct from other practitioners of that style in that he does not appropriate iconography from popular culture. Instead the artist has created his own personal vocabulary that includes a singular ghost-like visage with exaggerated eyes and no body. In contrast to the expressiveness of the eyes, the pale face of his subject evokes the makeup worn by actors in Kabuki theatre in order to mask their identity. The influence of Kawashima’s mentor, Nara, is readily apparent in these works - the air of mystery surrounding his signature characters powerfully engages the viewer.
After graduating from school, Kawashima spent two years at Hieizen Enryakuji, a historic temple located on the outskirts of Kyoto. Instead of fulfilling the training and becoming a monk, however, Kawashima returned to his home and refocused his attention on painting. Initially, the artist endeavored to plumb the depths of his own psychology but gradually he sought more abstract subjects and different creatures began to populate his canvases. While these creatures are all done in the same signature style, each work is unique. His process is to apply paint directly on to the canvas from the start without planning, using only his intuition. The title of the exhibition, Wandering reflects Kawashima’s philosophy about his art, a system that is clearly indebted to the self-disciplinary process he learned while studying in the Buddhist temple.
Kawashima was born in 1969 in Aichi, Japan. He studied painting at Tokyo Zokei University and graduated in 1991. Kawashima first received public recognition in 2001 when he was included in the group show Morning Glory curated by Yoshitomo Nara at Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo - a show that showcased a number of rising art-stars in Japan. Since then his work has been exhibited widely throughout Asia and beyond, including the seminal exhibition Little Boy: The Art of Japan’s Exploding Sub-culture in 2005, curated by Takashi Murakami at the Japan Society in New York. Today he lives and works in Tokyo.
In Korea, Kawashima’s work has been shown at the National Museum of Contemporary Art and in the group show On Painting, Part II at Kukje Gallery in 2007. Wandering is his first solo exhibition in Korea.