After receiving his MFA in oil painting from Tokyo University of Fine Art and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts), Toru Kamiya (b. 1969) studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland as an Irish government scholarship student. He currently lives and works in Kyoto as an associate professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Kamiya’s art boasts refined hues that are striking, and has become familiar to many, with permanent installations at public venues, such as the office elevator hall at Toranomon Hills, the office entrance at Tokyo Midtown, and pillars in the Lecture Hall building at Kyushu Dental University.
Modest Engagement is a title that epitomizes Kamiya’s art, concepts, and attitude to his work. According to Kamiya, the word “engagement” here refers to how one interacts with a painting or the relationship one establishes with it. He believes that both viewer and artist form such a relationship with the painting, through the act of viewing or creating. Nevertheless, Kamiya sees this as a “modest” relationship, in which intimacy develops over time. The title embodies the artist’s attitude, in which observations on how to relate to each painting are presented in a very moderate manner.
Toru Kamiya’s exceedingly simple paintings which achieve expression only through the gradation of colors, could be described as the ultimate form of painting. Rationalizations for producing paintings and the meanings of paintings may be important, but they also constrain preconditions of both artist and viewer to specific forms and terms of appreciation. In contrast, the exploration of Kamiya’s paintings that is freer and less restricted/constrained, yet still addresses the heart of the matter, leads to a field of pure color. Stripping away grand themes and concepts in an attempt to present as little overt significance as possible, Kamiya’s paintings are extremely open and accepting of the viewer, because they possess nothing. Consequently the viewer can experience the pure and simple joy of viewing.
Making use of the bathhouse gallery space, with its high ceiling, the exhibition consists mainly of large paintings roughly 5 m x 3 m in size. Each of the matte surface paintings has a depth that draws the viewer into the canvas, and unique hues that can be relished. And, when the entire venue is viewed as a coherent installation, the individual paintings seem to overlap and harmonize, as if to evoke a single piece of music.
Press release courtesy SCAI The Bathhouse.
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