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Nobuaki ONISHI: Chain
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: January 28 2010

fig.1 View from the exhibition "Chain - Butterfly” (2009), courtesy of Gallery Nomart

fig. 2 View from the exhibition "Chain - Butterfly” (2009), courtesy of Gallery Nomart

fig. 3 View from the exhibition "Chain/banana, ice” (2009), courtesy of Gallery Nomart

fig. 4 View from the exhibition "Chain/banana, ice” (2009), courtesy of Gallery Nomart

fig. 5 View from the exhibition “Nobuaki Onishi: Chain”, courtesy of Gallery Nomart

    Six hundred and seventy-two butterflies were pasted on the wall [fig. 1] [fig. 2]. The reason why I could accurately grasp the number of butterflies was of course not that I counted all of them one by one but that they were orderly arranged in a grid twenty-one widthwise and thirty-two lengthwise. Each butterfly was attached on the wall with its center pinned as if it was a specimen.
    However, the butterflies were obliquely arrayed. This made me feel some kind of restlessness. In addition, the butterflies were not real ones. Dots patterns of varying sizes were printed on a film in the shape of butterflies. In this way, each film seemingly looked like a real butterfly.
Furthermore, these six hundred and seventy-two butterflies were made using only six species of butterfly as their motifs.*1The array of exactly the same figures as well as the accumulation of dots revealed that the butterflies were created through an extremely automatic process. My disquiet might have been due to a psychological pressure caused by the excess repetition of the same form made in an artificial way.

    The exhibit entitled “Chain/banana, ice” (DVD-R, 2009) [fig. 3][fig. 4] was a film work which was an uncommon style of work among Onishi’s creations. In this piece, five monitors were arranged in a row. Images of bananas and pieces of ice were being shown repeatedly on the monitors. The color of banana peels gradually turned from yellow to black and the ice started to melt. Despite this, at the lower part of picture plane, there was the only one row of images in which bananas and ice remained unchanged in any way. In this part, the color of bananas remained yellow without any discoloration and the pieces of ice kept their form as cubes.     Onishi’s device was to use the same images on all the five monitors to express something like a chain thereby making viewers feel as if the part which ultimately remained unchanged in each picture plane was also linked with other unchanging parts found on the next monitor.
    The part of the image remaining unchanged was a fake. In each picture plane, Onishi partly replaced a real image with an imitation. The fake image emphasized the existence of the real one. Finally, real things having completely melted/rotted gave places to fakes which remained unmelted/unchanged. Thus, real things died and the imitations survived.
    The thing which frightened me was the fact that there was something unchanged. “Constancy” may often scare us. Despite this, why on earth is the sublimity of the eternal excessively disseminated these days? Beautify may be one of the best examples of the nobility of unchanged things. In the “Chain”, Onishi made a part of trivial things, such as bananas and pieces of ice, overly transformed into unaltered things with the aim of focusing on the eeriness of constancy. Constancy means remaining the same.

    The installation and the film work, both of which were created using butterflies as their motifs, were displayed together in the same exhibition space. A wooden wall with speakers attached [fig. 5] was found between the two creations. The sound of birdsong was heard from the “Music for Chain” (2009). It was also coming from the speakers continuously while I was viewing the other exhibits. The birdcalls heard from the right and left speakers resonated with the room, which made me feel as if I was in a mountain full of birdsong. However, obviously, the place on which I was standing was not a mountain but a gallery space. In addition, the wall with the speakers was installed in some discourteous way. Immediately after entering the exhibition room, I found at first the back side of the speakers attached to the wall.
    Equipments were barely exposed. The wooden wall apparently looked like a kind of partition, therefore, in fact, it seemed to be difficult for viewers to momentarily notice the sound of birdsong heard throughout the venue was imposingly coming from the two speakers put on the wall, but it might not have taken a lot of time to recognize that. The replication and repetition of birdcalls briefly conveyed a factor which was common throughout the creations shown in this exhibition.

    Onishi’s works presented in this solo exhibition entitled “Chain” held at the Gallery Nomart had one thing in common in that they were created under the “same” key concept, though they were made in varying forms, such as stereoscopic creations, planar works, music and images. The thought concerning two opposing things, namely, “true” versus “false” and “uniqueness” versus “replication”, was repeated throughout all the exhibits. Despite this, what was notable in this exhibition was that Onishi proposed many different kinds of variations. Fine “differences” were generated from the various kinds of output methods used in his creations, though the origin of the thought was the “same” in all the exhibits. This was exactly the reason why I trembled in fear in front of Onishi’s works without adjusting to the eeriness of remaining the “same”.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

The six species of butterfly referred to here are as follows:
Rice paper butterfly, Great orange tip, Cabbage butterfly, Damora sagana, Satyrinae and Favonius saphirinus.
Last Updated on November 02 2015

Editor's Note by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA

This exhibition shows a new turn of this artist who has been producing “Imitation like real thing of full-scale” works by using FRP or resin. There are still some solid works but only two; “Pottery 1” (ceramics, h: 3, w: 21, d: 21 cm (each), 2009) and “Pottery 2” (ceramics, h: 6.3, w: 7, d: 7 cm (each), 2009). There are various kinds of works including drawings, silk screens, image works, and music, which might puzzle you momentarily if you are familiar in his past works. However if you minutely observes it, you might notice that this variation has succeeded the idea and the way of originality or reproduction which has been inquired repeatedly with the past solid work. Some kind of eeriness comes from the works, and it is differ from the past solid works.

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