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"Gasoline": Sei Senkouji / Ai Chuda
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: May 25 2009

     I am now walking through the hall which is on the eleventh floor of a high-rise condominium. The hall faces the outside, so we can enjoy looking at the bright blue sky while walking along the hall. I am walking through the corridor, looking down at the street on the left side where midget-sized cars and people are passing. My aim is to visit the group exhibition entitled “Gasoline Exhibition: Sei Senkouji/Ai Chuda” (11/May/2009-23/May/2009) which is now held at GALLERY wks, located down the hall.

fig. 1 from the exhibition "Gasoline" at GALLERY wks.

fig. 2 Sei Senkouji "Labor" part (2009); paper, ink, acrylic paint, varnish copy right(c) Sei SENKOUJI

fig. 3 Ai Chuda "A Repairman" (2009); canvas, china clay, Japanese paper, Japanese ink, pigment made from clay, paint made from rock, charcoal, coal made from animal bones, 162.1cm×291.0cm copy right(c) Ai CHUDA

fig.4 Ai Chuda "A Grain of Sand" (2009); paper, Japanese ink, pencil, charcoal, gouache copy right(c) Ai CHUDA

fig.5 from the exhibition "Gasoline" at GALLERY wks.

     Entering the exhibition hall, we first find Senkouji’s work entitled “Labor” (paper, ink, acrylic paint, varnish, 2009) [fig.1]. This work, which was created by connecting nine papers, is displayed hanging from the ceiling and we cannot grasp what is depicted in the work at first glance. An awful lot of people are drawn in the work [fig.2]. In this picture, laborers, who are depicted with powerful brush strokes, seem to be ready to start running towards the left. According to the painter, Senkouji, his subjects were the people living in Kobe City and he took care not to draw laborers running in the same way. Looking at this work closely, we can find that he depicted the laborers in an imbalanced way rather than accurately, and that the drawing, which is on one of the nine papers, was made on the reverse side of a work which Senkouji had created before. Nonetheless, this work gives us an extremely strong impression that nullifies any such negative points. Effectively using the reflected light of the varnish which was painted on the work and the rusty color which represents to viewers that the work was newly created, Senkouji has succeeded in giving us an extremely fiery image in this work by using a tenacious and rough style, though the repetitive way of drawing may give viewers the sense that this has been created automatically.

     In this exhibition, Chuda shows us the following two works. The drawing entitled “A Repairman” (canvas, china clay, Japanese paper, Japanese ink, pigment made from clay, paint made from rock, charcoal, coal made from animal bones, 162.1cm×291.0cm, 2009) [fig.3], was modeled on a person who Chuda met while selecting people to use as models for the works in this exhibition. The work named “A Grain of Sand” (paper, Japanese ink, pencil, charcoal, gouache, 2009年) [fig.4], is said to be a self-portrait. Considering that Chuda has used canvas as a material of most of her works before, it is interesting that in “A Grain of Sand”, which was made up of patched and darned papers, the upper side of it is trailing down because it cannot fight gravity. However, I will not describe the details of this work here. Looking on this exhibition as a “group” exhibition, which artwork plays the most important role in this exhibition? I would answer that “A Repairman” does. I would like to make special mention that this work shows me Chuda’s expressiveness because of, not in spite of, the weakness of the paper used in the work as the base material.

     As written above, “A Repairman” was modeled on an auto mechanic whom Chuda had met while selecting people to use as models for pictures based on laborers as exhibits in the “Gasoline Exhibition”. In the center of a work created by connecting three panels, a man is staring ahead, probably because he is in the middle of doing his job. It is amazing that his arm is as thick as head, but I am not sure he has such a gigantic body actually. Probably, Chuda’s personal enthusiasm for the object of this work made her depict him in such a way. It is likely that in all her works, regardless of size, when depicting the subjects, Chuda strengthens their presence. Even if her works seem to give viewers an overdone image, her depiction cannot be said to give an inaccurate depiction of the subjects. She tells viewers through this work how vigorous it is for us to live in this world. A similar message is found in works which Chuda has created before, using elderly people as models.

     The “Gasoline Exhibition” is a kind of group exhibition, which conveys to us a common ideal between Senkouji and Chuda that resonates in harmony at the bottom of their hearts. However, the two works, Senkouji’s “Labors” and Chuda’s “A Repairman” are opposite creations in terms of the number of subjects since the former depicts crowds of people and the latter is a drawing of a single person [fig.5]. It is true that the drawings created by Senkouji, in which crowds of people face the same direction, give us an extremely fierce image, evoking for us the image of a demonstration or a strike, and may give us a feeling of oppression as if the people in the pictures are all being forced to do the same thing, and the total image may be too overpowering. However, both works equally evoke for viewers a fresh image because of their close attention to society and people.

     This exhibition is completely different from other artist group exhibitions in which each artist’s works are usually displayed separately. The “Gasoline Exhibition” was held by artists who did not participate in this exhibition on the sidelines but exchanged their views actively with the other participants, based on their clear concepts of each exhibit. In these circumstances, Akira Kitamura, who was one of the original members of this group exhibition, left the group in March 2009, right at the end of the exhibition. How can we accomplish a group exhibition that displays the characteristics of each participant effectively? It is very difficult to realize, though it is easy to say. Therefore, this exhibition can be described as an extremely critical show compared to other group exhibitions which are held throughout the nation without any main concept. We, the viewers, are given an unrefined image of humanity in the works shown in this exhibition, which we cannot judge from the market conditions or fashion. Although they may be awkward and clumsy works, they continue to confront us with the question “What is living?”
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Related Exhibition

"Gasoline": Sei Senkouji / Ai Chuda
11/May/2009 - 23/May/2009
Venue: GALLERY wks.

Last Updated on September 14 2011

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