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TENRI CULTURAL INSTITUTE OF NEW YORK
43A WEST 13TH STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10011 TELEPHONE 212.645.2800 EMAIL tci@tenri.org

 

ULTIMATE BEAUTY

Curated by Motoichi Adachi and Kyoko Sato

Artists: Takuya Sugiyama, Yuji Hamamura, Erika Harrsch, Eva Petric, Johan Wahlstrom
January 25 - February 1, 2023


Opening Reception Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 6-8pm

ULTIMATE BEAUTY
Curated by Motoichi Adachi and Kyoko Sato

Artists:
Takuya Sugiyama, Yuji Hamamura, Erika Harrsch, Eva Petric, Johan Wahlstrom

Wednesday, January 25 - Wednesday, February 1, 2023 | Closed on January 27

Motoichi Adachi, an Emmy Award-winning writer in Tokyo, and Kyoko Sato, a New York-based curator known for her introduction of Japanese culture into New York’s contemporary art scene, have come together to launch a new art exhibition series. The series will bring Japan-based artists whose works, regardless of genre or background, to the world's cutting-edge art scene alongside – and in conversation with – leading international and New York-based artists, effectively interacting with and inspiring each other.
***

I cut through the art world with the sensibility that has long been active in the world of Japanese television. We want to bring a new wind of free and unrestrained ideas to a world that values old traditions. Beautiful works are beautiful and interesting works are interesting, even if they are not from famous art universities or patronized by influential galleries. We want to let attractive artists run amok in the world. I would like to try an unconventional challenge this time.

— Motoichi Adachi

***
American, New York based composer and music theorist John Cage (1912-1992) said, "The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason." In my work as a curator, I’m not looking for the fame or prestige of the artists, but the way their work makes me feel. To put it simply, beauty comes down to whether or not it stirs my soul: it must evoke emotion. For the first exhibition of the series, I have chosen a simple and fundamental theme: ultimate beauty. How can we decide what beauty is, and what does it have to do with art, why it’s made, and the value we assign it?

After the Second World War, the center of art shifted from Europe to New York. With a new influx of artists, property prices soared as the city became revitalized. The artists’ vibrant energy became a vital pulse of the city, not just creating culture, but essentially deciding who could create it. With the conscious effort toward the inclusion of underrepresented artists that we see today, I wonder what kind of impact these artists might have, such as Japanese artists, who have challenged Euro-centric ideals since the end of the War?

As cultural history progresses, the meritocracy with which “good” art is evaluated is an ever-increasing threat to our freedom in recognizing and appreciating art, not for its resume, but for its ability to evoke. Should works from underprivileged backgrounds be deemed unworthy, simply because their creators are labeled unqualified, unrefined, outsiders? When their works stir the soul, how should they be received? To cast them aside is too reductive a reaction, one lost in the muddied, vapid waters of categorization and merit.

This exhibition prioritizes these artists challenging the cultural norm, seeking to define and redefine beauty. As Cage put it, "An artist conscientiously moves in a direction which for some good reason he takes, putting one work in front of the other with the hope he’ll arrive before death overtakes him." When an artist chooses a direction, is it in search of beauty? Is it in hopes of  leading the rest of us to a more hopeful future? Is that where the value lies? Throughout this exhibition, we will pose these questions and more.

Takuya Sugiyama focuses on the "moment" when the viewer sees his work. He creates his works by erasing his personality (ego) as an artist, and the viewers who see his works become one with him. We humans are not only physical bodies, but also formless lights. The viewer is led from darkness to light by the communication through the medium of his work, which is the ultimate beauty of his art.
According to the theory of evolution, the sea is the source of our creatures. 
Yuji Hamamura finds beauty in the emerald green waters of the tropics. The crystal clear water, the white sandy beaches, and the undersea where creatures lurk. We are healed just by going there. We can fly directly to that healing space and to the joy of life by looking at Hamamura's works, which are the opposite of Damien Hirst's "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (1991), which makes us feel life as a contrast to death.
Erika Harrsch holds that what one's mind and body desire, and at the same time what one's mind and body are desired to do, is essential to the formation of a woman's personality. The Greek word psyche means heart, soul, and butterfly, and Hirsch, using provocative expressions for her art practice, sees the woman as a butterfly with a beautiful form. 
Eva Petric collects pieces of hand-knitted lace by women to create one large work of art, uniting them to realize something greater. In this sense, the work of Johan Wahlstrom has a similar approach. He keeps painting many faces on the screen. The way the people are connected to each other, covered by Warlstrom’s spider web inspired by Jackson Pollock, is like an abstract depiction of the society we live in.

— Kyoko Sato

***
(Biography)

Takuya Sugiyama
Born in the Kanagawa Prefecture in 1987, Takuya Sugiyama is an artist and composer based in Tokyo, Japan. While exhibiting fine art in Tokyo, Paris (Focus Art Fair, 2021), London (Focus Art Fair, the Saatchi Gallery), and New York, he provided illustrations for the relay essay "Reciprocal Letter" by Yoshikazu Okada and Jinsei Tsuji (2018, Chunichi Shimbun and Tokyo Shimbun), and provided design for a film "Nunuko no Sei?Sen" (director: Takehiro Shindo, 2018). He has collaborated with numerous fashion brands such as TAAKK, Mother's Industry, and Under Armour, and provided music for rappers Yunyudo and GOMESS. He graduated from Tama Art University in 2011 with a degree in Environmental Design.

Yuji Hamamura
Born in the Chiba Prefecture in 1971, he currently resides in the Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. In 2018, at the age of 47, he began creating self-taught resin-based art with its themes being the sea. As soon as he started making art, his work was awarded in a public competition the following year, and in 2020, his work was adopted in the train of Kaiyukan, one of the largest aquariums in the world. In 2022, he participated in the 29th International Peace Art Exhibition, art fairs in Dubai, Paris, and Taiwan, exhibited work at the National Art Museum of Singapore, and had his first solo exhibition at SOZO, a hair salon with gallery space in Omotesando, Tokyo.

Erika Harrsch
Erika Hirsch is a Mexican artist based in New York. Her expression ranges from installation, painting, video, photography, and performance. His work has been exhibited at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; El Barrio Museum of American Art, New York; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Massachusetts; Nevada Museum of Art, Nevada; Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut. She has exhibited at the Neuberger Museum, New York; Bellevue Art Museum, Washington; Museum of Contemporary Art, Querétaro, Mexico; Gothenburg Art Museum, Sweden; Museum of Photography, Belgium; Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea; and others.

Eva Petric
Born 1983 in Slovenia, multimedia artist based in New York and Vienna. She creates a wide variety of works including installation, photography, video, performance, and music. She has had over 75 solo exhibitions around the world, participated three times in the Beijing International Art Biennale, has been nominated twice for the Venice Biennale, and has been invited to the Cairo Biennale in 2019. Her work with lace has been exhibited at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, the United Nations, and St. John the Divine Cathedral. She is currently participating in the Moon Gallery on the International Space Station, a project that takes art to the moon.

Johan Wahlstrom
Born in Sweden in 1959, Wahlstrom is based in New Jersey. He has been exhibiting in Europe and the United States since 1998 and has exhibited in group shows with Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and David Salle. He has had four solo exhibitions at the George Berges Gallery, a gallery in Soho, New York. Before becoming a visual artist, he toured as a rock musician with Ian Hunter, Graham Parker, and Mick Ronson.

***
Motoichi Adachi
Adachi is a broadcast writer who has led the Japanese television industry. He has worked on mega hit TV shows such as "SMAPxSMAP” and "Odoru! Sanma Goten!”. In 2008, he won the 35th International Emmy Award for "Takeshi Kitano presents Comaneci University Mathematics," a program he created, and walked the red carpet in New York with director Takeshi Kitano, who appeared in the program. Other awards include the 42nd Galaxy Award Grand Prize and the United Nations Peace Film Festival 2007 Special Award.

Kyoko Sato
Sato is a curator based in New York. She collaborated with the Asahi Shimbun to realize the “Ancient Egyptian Queens and Goddesses: Treasures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York” (2014, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and Kobe City Museum). She founded the Asian Programming at WhiteBox, a New York art space known for its avant-garde exhibitions, and served as its director from 2018 to 2021, curating the historic exhibition entitled, "A Colossal Word: Japanese Artists and New York, 1950s-Present"(2018), presenting works of from masters such as Yayoi Kusama, Yoko Ono, Shigeko Kubota, Takashi Murakami to younger expats such as Tomokazu Matsuyama.

 

Special thanks to Kenji Tokumitsu, Michael Yuge, Kaori Tetsuka, Joseph Ayers, Kiichiro Adachi, Carley Townsend, and Karen Ono.