We are pleased to present UNLOGICAL, Kugenuma, Fujisawa City, Kanagawa-based artist baanai's first solo exhibition at MAKI Gallery. Following Connect #1—a three-person group show held in January of 2021 where baanai exhibited several paintings—the artist will hold his largest presentation to date at our Tennoz II gallery space.
Since 2017, baanai continues to build his artistic practice around repeatedly painting the words 'ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU' (translating to 'Thank you' in Japanese) on canvas. Bold, mesmerizing block letters fill every available space, oftentimes overlapping one another to the point where letters frequently become hidden, abstracted, and almost unrecognizable. Thus far, baanai's work exuded a punchy and dizzying effect, perhaps erroneously evoking the impression of an equally boisterous and flashy artist behind these vibrant, multicolored paintings. For his debut solo exhibition—amidst a selection of colorful works—many of the works embrace a quieter tone, perhaps more accurately reflecting the artist himself, one who looks straight ahead and gently outpours gratitude towards all.
baanai's mantra of 'ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU' present in each of his paintings, comes from a place of sincerity and reveals his humble and meditative approach. Each canvas is saturated with the recurring words of gratitude where on occasion, the words lose shape and no longer serve to convey meaning. Rather, through the thick web of letters, viewers are left to wait for the words to come back into focus. With time, each layer slowly unravels and baanai's own psyche begins to unveil itself. Each layer seems to overwhelm the next and a sense of urgency is felt, as if the artist is in desperate search for answers—answers to what remaining unbeknownst to all.
The title UNLOGICAL is derived from Yukio Mishima's afterword in his book of talks between him and the All-Campus Joint Struggle Committees (student-run protest group) of the University of Tokyo: "My idea of innovation is to demand strict logic in politics and to concentrate on the source of illogicality and irrationality in the concept of the emperor, since the illogicality of the national mind (Gemüt) is the mother of culture." baanai remarks, "To keep trying hard to do something that may or may not be right, to go straight for what you want to believe in—may be one attitude towards art. The experiment of 'ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU' is a very personal interpretation, and I don't know if the world or the universe will see it as a correct practice. I want to make the letters (ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU) work as art, trying to convert 'letters' into 'thoughts'. I believe it is the invisible vibrations, the thoughts and feelings, that are important. Specifically, I think the letters (words) can be converted into thoughts by painting 'ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU' all over the bottom layer and making it invisible by painting over it."
We invite you to dive deep into baanai's layered, contemplative paintings and seek to uncover the root of the artist's opus.
Press Release: Courtesy of MAKI