MAKI Gallery is pleased to announce Nothing New Under the Sun, a major solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Kaz Oshiro, marking a momentous return to Tennoz since his last solo show three years ago. Born in postwar, American-occupied Okinawa, Oshiro relocated to California soon after graduating high school. His practice offers unique interpretations of various movements enshrined in art historical canon, such as Pop Art, Minimalism, and Abstract Expressionism, while continuing to contemplate the fundamental question of what it means to make a work of art.
Nothing New Under the Sun presents new iterations of Oshiro's signature three-dimensional canvas works, which perfectly imitate mundane objects like amplifiers, steel beams, and trash bins. In addition, the show introduces California Calligraphy, a series of abstract paintings inspired by the streaks and scribbles left on dust-covered car bodies across smog-filled Los Angeles. While Oshiro has made similar works in the past to complement his more sculptural installations, this exhibition marks the first occasion that these paintings __take center stage as an independent body of work.
Each corner of the California Calligraphy paintings bears a gentle curvature, enabling the surfaces to blend seamlessly with the edges. Their curvilinear forms and distinctly reflective finish—which Oshiro painstakingly developed through trial and error—are reminiscent of a car body, generating an indescribable, unique presence that distinguishes the works from conventional paintings. Upon these polished surfaces, the artist applies car wax with brushes and other tools to construct his abstract compositions, then airbrushes paint on the entire surface to simulate a fine layer of dust. Once the paint dries, he removes the wax, allowing the underlying image to emerge in a subtle and elusive manner, visible only from specific angles. These images are quietly evocative of pre-modern visual languages, such as those found in ancient religions, astrology, and abstract symbolism in archaeological sites around the world—all elements Oshiro has encountered over years of contemplating what it means to "create" something.
At first glance, California Calligraphy may seem to deviate from Oshiro's previous works, which meticulously replicate everyday objects down to the finest details. Nevertheless, the artist has always considered the dust, stains, and scratches he intentionally applies to amplifiers, trash bins, and steel beams as part of his abstract expression. Oshiro firmly acknowledges the transformative impact the Abstract Expressionist movement and the "death of painting" had on the medium—yet as he continues to seek the true essence and meaning of painting, he maintains the belief that the ultimate purpose of art is the pursuit of abstract ideas. His practice represents a continuous endeavor to create work that aligns with such inner convictions, and this new series embodies the artist's unwavering commitment to abstraction more strongly than ever before.
In contrast to Western art tradition, which emphasizes an artist's individual style, Oshiro places great value on the corporeality of using his own body to make art, prioritizing the physical act of creation over a desire for recognition by others. From a reluctance to boldly assert his artistic ideas, Oshiro purposefully forges pieces that may not immediately be recognized as works of art—a practice the artist openly refers to as "passive abstract expression."
This exhibition signifies an important milestone in Oshiro's extensive creative journey, one culminating in the realization of—in his view—an ideal form of abstract painting. While his approach may diverge from conventional Western art paradigms, the energy he has invested in his creations is immeasurable. Through his deep understanding of art history, keen conceptual insight, steadfast devotion to abstract expression, and impeccable technique, the artist has given life to a distinctive body of work that could only be crafted by his hands alone.
Please take this opportunity to experience Oshiro's captivating new works, which quietly yet compellingly challenge the very nature of art through their sheer existence, and invite viewers to explore the liminal space between abstraction and representation, where consciousness and subconsciousness intersect.
Press Release: Written by Haruna Takeda