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Nobuaki ONISHI: Collection of Verticality
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: April 28 2009

    I cannot grasp what Nobuaki Onishi intends to express through his works. At the entrance of C- Square where this solo exhibition entitled “Nobuaki Onishi - Collection of Verticality” (13/Apr/2009-16/May/2009) is held, there is a sign saying “All works displayed here are art works. These works will tell us how often we look at only the surface of things”. Probably this is true. Onishi models objects with silicon, casts them by using resin, paints them, and finally exhibits them as his works. As stated above, I manage to reserve judgment by saying “Probably this is true”, because viewers understand what Onishi actually expresses through his works mostly by reading the words written on this sign or by hearing information given to them beforehand, and they rarely grasp the meaning by discovering things for themselves through viewing his works.

fig. 1 ”mini kupa" (2008); FRP, acrylic color, lacquer paints, and urethane paints Photo provided by Nobuaki OHNISHI, copyright © Nobuaki OHNISHI

fig. 2 "toruso-binasu" (2009); FRP and acrylic color Photo provided by Nobuaki OHNISHI, copyright © Nobuaki OHNISHI

fig. 3 "dojiboru" (2009); FRP, acrylic color Photo provided by Nobuaki OHNISHI, copyright © Nobuaki OHNISHI

    For example, one of his works, entitled “kyatatsu” (FRP/epoxy resin/acrylic paint/urethane paint, 2008) previously exhibited, implies that the work is a fake by being colored translucently. Or, “mini kupa” (FRP/acrylic paint/lacquer paint/urethane paint, 2008) [fig.1] which was exhibited in his solo exhibition held at Hatsudensho Museum*1 and also displayed in this exhibition, is a work vividly expressing car bodies with slimy textures which real ones do not have. The cars here are painted completely only on the outside and are not painted at all on the inside. Then, how about his new works, including “toruso-binasu” (FRP/acrylic paint, 2009) [fig.2], “sukoppu” (FRP/acrylic paint, in 2009) and “dojiboru” (FRP/acrylic paint, 2009) [fig.3], displayed in this exhibition? A torso of Venus displayed on a pedestal upside down, an old shovel colored dark green and partly rusted (particularly in the center), and a ball, probably made of rubber, deflated and hollow – these are things created by having their prototypes broken by some external power. As for these three works, however, they all feature two works created in the same form and displayed in pairs. So, viewers looking at these works feel there is “something strange” about them. However, there is no factor which implies that these works are fakes, as written above. Therefore, it is difficult for us to recognize visually that these works are fakes. Actually, we viewers have been informed that these works are fakes before we look at them. However, if we had not been told this beforehand we might find that we could not make judgments subjectively about whether these works were real or fakes. and then, we have a chilly image of his works.

    Is it possible to compare Onishi’s works with super realistic works created by woodcarving artists, such as Yoshihiro Suda and Fuyuki Maehara, considering these works have elements in common in terms of being stereoscopic and true to their subjects? As for the motifs of their works, we can find that the motifs of Maehara’s works, including a rusted razor and a dried-out crab, are similar to those of Onishi’s works. However, it is clear that, as opposed to Maehara’s works which are composed of only one tree and created by his remarkable techniques and which make a great impact on viewers, the works created by Onishi do not have such impact, and Onishi himself originally does not aim to be admired for the techniques of his works. Onishi’s works impress us because of his remarkable painting techniques by which he creates intensely realistic textures, and also because they include concepts for presenting the dichotomy between whether what we are seeing is real or fake. Sometimes his work has an uncertain image through being only partly painted, and another time it creates suspicion and psychological anxiety in viewers because of its repetitive nature, being displayed not independently but in pairs of the same two works. When we encounter Onishi’s works, we have the awful feeling of coming face-to-face with things the meanings of which we cannot grasp. Onishi aims to recapture the unknown parts of motifs by presenting existing motifs mostly as they are, though almost all the motifs of his works are trivial and common and have already been experienced or known by viewers. That is why I cannot understand what he really intends to express through his works even after I have examined them as described above.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

"Nobuaki Onishi - LOVERS LOVERS" in Hatsudensho Museum, Nizayama Forest Art Museum, Nyuzen Town (11/Oct/2008-14/Dec/2008)

Related Exhibition
Nobuaki Onishi: Collection of Verticality
13/Apr/2009 - 16/May/2009
Venue: Chukyo University Art Gallery "C·Square"
Last Updated on July 05 2010

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