I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
The artist Teppei Kaneuji and Reiko Tsubaki, Curator at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, discuss the artist's recent sculptures and performances. Kaneuji investigates the mass consumption of contemporary Japanese culture, sourcing materials from everyday life, found objects and manga characters to create sculptures that are at once playful and menacing.
Contemporary artist Teppei Kaneuji's playful yet ominous sculptures consist of found objects and images that negotiate the complexities of everyday life. Through these assemblages of commonplace items, overlooked and mundane objects are transformed into artworks that transcend their associated contexts and associations.
Born in Kyoto where he is now based, Kaneuji grew up with an interest in collecting objects such as toys and stickers. He studied sculpture at Kyoto City University of Arts where he received his BFA and MFA in 2001 and 2003 respectively. There, he learned traditional techniques such as modelling, stone and wood carving, and how to use resin. During the final year of his BFA, Kaneuji took part in an exchange programme, studying abroad at the Royal College of Art in London.
Throughout his career, Kaneuji's practice has consistently made use of contrasting found materials, often to comment on mass consumption in Japan. In his series 'White Discharge' (2002–ongoing), Kaneuji meshes together mismatched objects such as plastic buckets, rolls of tape, toy figurines and traffic cones, and covers them with dripping white resin to create fantastical landscapes. The colour of the resin is no accident; in the context of Japanese culture, the word 'white' suggests both existence and non-existence.
By contrast, the sculptural series 'Teenage Fan Club' (2007–ongoing) sees the artist creating a singular rule for himself: to use only hair pieces from action figures, superheroes, plastic anime dolls and other toy figurines. Inspired by watching people's heads sway together in the crowd at a concert, for this series Kaneuji removes the hair from the original body of the figurine to create new bipedal monsters.
Alongside his sculptural artworks, Kaneuji also experiments with two-dimensional images and printmaking. Much like the rest of his layered practice, his collages combine various textures, bringing together photos, magazine clippings, drawings and printed material. In his series 'Games, Dance and the Constructions' (2011–ongoing), Kaneuji assembles cut-outs from Japanese manga books and prints the illustrations onto plastic, mirror, plywood panels or soft plush sculptures, or merges them with photographs of real-life situations and locations, sometimes packing the contents into transparent frames. The series comments on the nature of two-dimensional objects and the relationship between image and object; as he explores different dimensions and contexts with ready-made materials, he changes how mundane objects are seen and interacted with.
Kaneuji had his first solo show at Kodama Gallery, Osaka, in 2002, and since then has exhibited extensively across Japan and internationally, including Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin (2006); Long March Space in Beijing (2007); Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (2009) and Gwangju Museum of Art (2010). Kaneuji's work has been collected by several public institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Yokohama Museum of Art and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.
Located next to the Japanese embassy, it was only a matter of time before Japan would become the focus of Asia Now's annual Platform, with the nation-wide Japonismes 2018 offering a catalyst to do so. The Japanese Platform for the 4th Asia Now (17–21 October 2018) was organised by Emmanuelle de Montgazon, associate curator of the Japanese Season at...
'Founded by Claude Fain and Alexandra Fain, ASIA NOW aims to present the new perspectives and issues for contemporary Asian art and its market: the value of its artists, its potential for development and its rising stars.'–Asia Now Paris (17–21 October 2018).
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