November 20– January 29, 2022
From November 20, 2021 to January 29, 2022, KOTARO NUKAGA, Tennoz is pleased to present ‘After Dark,’ a solo exhibition by Keita Morimoto. After 15 years in Canada, the artist has returned to Japan this year to unveil 21 new paintings at his first ever solo exhibition in his home country.
Keita Morimoto first began learning painting when he moved to Canada at the age of 16. He is particularly attracted to the techniques and compositions of classical painting, and by combining perfectly controlled expressions of light reminiscent of Baroque period paintings with motifs of everyday scenes from contemporary society, Morimoto forms an eclectic combination that allows him to open up his own original approach to realism. His ability to create beauty and mystique out of ordinary, unremarkable landscapes, together with his method of constructing personal narratives featuring anonymous protagonists, positions him within the lineage of magic realism represented by such artists as Edward Hopper and Peter Doig. At the same time, his dispassionate view of contemporary society introduces viewers to a brand new perspective.
Light is an element that has fascinated people such as Rembrandt throughout art history, and has often been as treated as mystical and religious. In the series of works shown in this exhibition, Morimoto expands upon this motif of “light” to include not only natural and sacred phenomena but also the light which attracts people in today’s consumerist society, such as vending machines, fast food restaurants, and electric signs in parking lots, depicting our everyday experience of the 21st century. His nighttime scenes purposefully evade iconic symbols that could be used to identify them as specific locations. Overlooked corners within the blindingly bright Tokyo cityscape, local train stations with few passengers, and familiar hilltops that you swear you’ve seen before somewhere but can’t remember where… Morimoto inserts unidentifiable figures into these unremarkable places, and depicts them in controlled light. In this way, Morimoto shines a light on the transit points– the “anonymous places”– of our daily lives, and through the contrast of darkness and light, creates a “heterotopia,” a place where we can temporarily escape from the real world. We, the viewers, are invited into this “heterotopia” that Morimoto has created, a place that looks familiar, a place that could be anywhere.
The concept of “heterotopia” was advocated by Michel Foucault, the 20th century French thinker, and is derived from the Greek “hetero = different” and “topia (tópos) = place,” meaning “other place.” Foucault was a philosopher who continuously contemplated “the difficulty of living” and the powers that cause such difficulty. Responding to the idea of “utopia” as a mythical, fictional location conceived to challenge reality, Foucault proposed the idea of the “heterotopia”, a place that exists in reality but is absolutely different or ‘other’ to all other places, an “anti-place” that nullifies all other places from within. In order to challenge and resist the reality that makes living so difficult, Foucalt believed it was necessary to build a “heterotopia” in the real world, rather than a utopia in an imaginary world.
“In today’s society,” says Morimoto, “many people suffer from the difficulty of living.”
He believes that this is due to the fact that we unconsciously focus too much of our attention on values that have been defined outside of ourselves, especially in our current world, where social systems of mutual surveillance are continuously being created. Through painting, Morimoto attempts to delicately deviate from this “difficulty in living” in modern society.
The freedom to make our ordinary lives special, no matter how we may be deprived; through his works, Morimoto suggests that this freedom to determine our own way of being can never be taken away from us. We hold the power to weave our own unique stories and add color to our daily lives– to create our own “heterotopias” out of our everyday surroundings– and Morimoto’s works remind us that it is up to us to decide how we interact with and face the world.
November 20– January 29, 2022 11:00−18:00 (Tue-Sat) *Closed on Sun, Mon and Public Holidays *Schedule and contents are subject to change at the request of the national and local governments. *Open on 11/7 (Sun) for Art Week Tokyo.
Guidelines for visitors
At KOTARO NUKAGA, we will be implementing the following measures to ensure the safety of visitors. Please review our guidelines before your visit. As a precautionary measure to help contain the further spread of COVID-19, we have set the following guidelines. Visitor Safety All visitors are required to wear a mask and sanitize your hands at the entrance. Please refrain from visiting the gallery if you are experiencing the following symptoms: – Cold/Flu-like symptoms – Fever (over 37.1 C/99.1 F) – Fatigue, shortness of breath, etc. Staff Safety At KOTARO NUKAGA we will take the following measures: – Install hand sanitizers in easily accessible locations – Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high touch points including doorknobs, elevator bottons, etc. – Limit the number of visitors – All the gallery members will wear a mask, regularly sanitize hands, measurement of body temperature Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.