In search of others

Yuichi Hirako|Yugo Isaji|Wang Guan-Jhen|Umi Kumano|Naohiro Takahashi|Chen Yun|Akashi Teramoto

May 14 - June 25, 2022


KOTARO NUKAGA is pleased to announce that from May 14 (Sat) to June 25 (Sat), 2022, we will be presenting the group exhibition ‘ In search of others’.

The exhibition will explore the idea of “the human who exists as an Other”, and will feature 7 artists from both Japan and abroad, including Yuichi Hirako, Yugo Isaji, Wang Guan-Jhen, Umi Kumano, Naohiro Takahashi, Chen Yun, and Akashi Teramoto. This show also marks the first group exhibition curated by Yuichi Hirako.

Yugo Isaji views the world around him as being composed of sculptures, and creates found object sculptures such as models of human faces and rounded, inflated bottles using primarily plastic products, giving inorganic everyday objects a sense of life. Wang Guan-Jhen traverses across the two genres of painting and ceramics, attempting to approach the boundary between the emotional existence of human beings and the impersonality of vessels by creating strange yet innocent human figures and ceramics of cut-out bodies. Umi Kumano’s works depict grandiose scenes, using vivid colors to depict the way we humans live alongside chaos and attempt to grope through the dark fog of today’s society. Naohiro Takahashi’s wood carvings of the human body depict unnatural combinations of various body parts connected in fragments reminiscent of string puppets, creating deformity and questioning our understanding of the body under physical constraints. Chen Yun, whose practice centers on the materialization of memory, utilizes a montage technique to combine two to three panels that simultaneously present abstraction and figuration, and feature modern everyday figures in lyrical, cinematic scenes. Akashi Teramoto’s paintings depict unusual landscapes by placing everyday motifs in unexpected spaces. By forcing the viewer to travel between the natural and the strange, Teramoto asks us to reconsider the relationship between various elements (and between humans) in our environment.

This exhibition features a variety of Others as created from each artist’s viewpoint. “Others”, in the broadest sense of the word, does not simply mean other people; the objective world in relation to the subjective “I”, or the “person” who represents and conveys an artist’s message, could also be interpreted as a sort of Other. As French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas says, the Other is “that which cannot be understood, that which is impossible to take in.” However, the noise created by this incomprehensible Other is what draws our gaze outward beyond the enclosed domes of our own small worlds, and in this sense, the Other, when it rescues the “I” from the solitude of self-containment, can become possibility itself.

For example, in order to convey the distorted subject-object relationship that has arisen between nature and humans in the modern era, Hirako has created a “tree man” character to symbolize the anxious Other, inviting people to become aware of their relationship with nature.

The “tree man” was born out of Hirako’s discomfort with the trees he saw in urban parks when he was studying abroad in London. The way people treated these trees as nature– more specifically, the way people were satisfied with accepting these artificial, man-made botanical environments as nature– made the artist uncomfortable. We humans have perpetuated systems of capitalism by controlling everything in the world around us, changing and exploiting natural ecosystems. However, as exemplified by the fact that the impact on nature caused by human-centered industrialization has been labeled as the era of the Anthropocene, some believe that environmental problems have become so pressing that they can no longer be solved solely from an anthropocentric, or human-centric, perspective.

We humans have a history of perceiving the “self” as an entity detached from the natural world, which we view as the non-self; the Other. We, as the subject, have made the world, the Other, our subordinate, and in the process have become deaf to the very voice of the world. The appearance of the coronavirus, for which we still do not have the full picture or solution, can be said to be one of these Other voices we cannot hear.

The Other that Hirako describes, the “tree people,” also do not speak with a voice. However, there is an important meaning to seeing these “tree people” appear before us as Others. Take a listen to their voices. By opening our hearts to them, by participating in their world, they may be able to tell us something that words cannot. It may be Hirako’s own thoughts, or it may also be the Others of the world who are trying to communicate something through Hirako.

The way the pandemic has shaped our daily modes of communication over the past few years through online media and social networking sites has made us aware of the fact that the world we live in is a small circle. It has taken away the palpable reality of everything– from pandemics, to wars, to the Olympics– that occurs outside of our umwelt, and we are forced to consider that in the past, even the Others, those strangers who simply existed in our daily lives, created the reality of our world.

As Hirako says, “In this exhibition, I would like you to search for the Other. Approaching these Others with an open attitude and the willingness to understand them will lead us to a world larger than the small one we live in, for it is these Others that serve as a bridge to the world.”

We hope this exhibition will remind you to take the time to listen to the voices of Others.


In search of others



May 14 - June 25, 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.


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.