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Natsunosuke MISE: mongetsudai
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: October 08 2009

     Approximately two years ago, Natsunosuke Mise exhibited the “Ruining Japanese Painting” (Japanese paper/ink/chalk/gold leaf/acrylic paint/collage made by using printed materials, 182.0cm×242.0cm, 2007, private collection) for the “Ruining Japanese Painting” exhibition (18/Sep/2007-20/Oct/2007), which was held at the C Square, Chukyo University, at the request of the curator, Goro Morimoto. This work which was created in Italy in March, 2007 gave us a chaotic image in that sceneries of “Japan” and “Italy” seemed to fuse together weirdly in the work. Probably, this would be partly because the theme of the exhibition was the “ruin” of “Japanese painting”. Compared with the “Regeneration of Japanese Painting” (Japanese paper/ink/chalk, 182.0cm×242.0cm, 2007, private collection), which was exhibited during the same period, the “Ruining Japanese Painting” gave us an apocalyptic image more intensely. In this exhibition which was held as Mise’s solo exhibition in the same place as that of the “Ruining Japanese Painting” exhibition, I could not help comparing his creations shown this time with the “Ruining Japanese Painting”. This is the reason why I have mentioned that Mise exhibited the “Ruining Japanese Painting” at the C Square two years ago.

fig. 1 View from the exhibition "Natsunosuke Mise: Mongetsu-dai" (Sep. 7- Nov. 10, 2009) at Chukyo University Art Gallery "C·Square"

fig. 2 "Chitose" (2009); Japanese paper/ink/chalk, 300.0cm×365.0cm, courtesy of the artist and Chukyo University Art Gallery "C·Square" copy right(c) Natsunosuke MISE

    Then, what kind of works did he show in this solo exhibition entitled “Mongetsu-dai” (07/Sep/2009-10/Oct/2009)? After coming back from Europe, Mise has been using ink in most of his works in addition to collage which he has been utilizing from before. In this exhibition, we could find that he used the above-mentioned materials in the exhibits. Nevertheless, there seemed to be major changes in the characteristics of his works. For example, regarding the “Ruining Japanese Painting” and the “Regeneration of Japanese Painting”, he created them based on a theme relating one of genres of art, “Japanese painting”, into which his creations are (were?) classified. His other works which were exhibited afterward, such as “The Prince -Il Principe-” (2007), “My God” (2008), and “J” (2008), which was the winner of the VOCA Award, seemed to reflect matters of concern about his surroundings and society. The characteristic of the above-mentioned works is that a number of figurative subjects, including a Italian Duomo, a flag of the Rising Sun, a giant statue of Buddha, a huge man and Mount Fuji, are depicted in them repeatedly. Nevertheless, in each exhibit of the “Mongetsu-dai”, there was no such a feature, except for the “Hayopira” (2008), in which we found the subjects which look like Mount Fuji are depicted. In almost all of the exhibits, natural landscapes have been embodied using shading of ink though there were some depictions which looked like those of fireworks, and the overall image of them were created by ink or connected pieces of paper. Some exhibits were so large in length that they were displayed using not only the wall but the ceiling probably intentionally or because the height of the wall was not enough to display the whole works.

    Mise has been creating works using his own method that connects small parts. Nonetheless, his works have been completed in the form of squares or ovals. Therefore, it can be said that his creations have been same as other existing paintings created by other artists in forms in spite of having been made using his own technique. However, most of his works shown in this exhibition seemed to have deviated purposely from the conditions which are necessary for “paintings” to be looked on as “paintings”. In short, they seemed to be stereoscopic. The exhibit entitled “Chitose” (Japanese paper/ink/chalk, 300.0cm×365.0cm, 2009), which I saw for myself for the first time in this exhibition, was stuck to the wall using thumbtacks randomly. Such a display form has rarely been seen in Mise’s works but found in many other artists’ creations. I have never seen such a kind of his creation that can be recognized to have been made using collage at a glance. The “Chitose” was made into the shape of a mountain. Let me focus on the downside of the work. There was a space between the two scraps made by collage, which gave us an image as if the mountain was floating in space. The shape of a shadow of this bottom part which we saw on the floor looked like that of a crane. It may be due to my over-interpretation but this might be the reason Mise named this creation “Chitose” (In Japan, there is a legend saying, “Cranes live for a thousand years and turtles live for ten thousand years.”). Compared with his past creations which were made in the size of covering all over the wall, this work seemed to be smaller than those. Nonetheless, it gave us a massive image, which would be due to its form. His other creations displayed in this exhibition also showed us that he has been trying to reconstruct the genre of suiboku-ga through his own method while keeping his strong interest in natural landscapes. In this exhibition, his creations were connected with each other, same as the collaged parts linking together in each work, which contributes to generating a sense of unity in the exhibition space.
By the way, regarding the mysterious title of this exhibition, “Mongetsu-dai”, Mise wrote on February 16, 2009 in his blog entitled “Synapse Drawf” as follows:

“On Sunday, I went to the Museum Yamato Bunkakan to visit the exhibition entitled ‘Tessai Tomioka and Japanese Modern Art’. Indeed, it was valuable for me to look at the “攀嶽全景図 (Hangakuzenkeizu)’ this time. In addition, I found a really interesting word in this exhibition. It is the term ‘Mongetsu-dai’which is said to mean a castle where a mountain hermit talks with the moon. I would like to draw a picture under the theme of this word. Wouldn’t you think it is nice to talk to the moon in these days?”*1

     From the first time I encountered Mise’s creations, they have been making me feel that they include some elements of natural landscapes which allow me to find a place to play in them. In his works, we find science fiction scenes, such as UFOs are flying above the forest, a Loch Ness monster appears from a lake, and a giant is walking around in a picture. Nevertheless, what we can recognize through this exhibition is the fact that the subjects depicted in his creations has changed from neo-futuristic things, which he has been using to establish his own methods, to classical “natural landscapes”. Nonetheless, needless to say, this does not mean Mise has regressed as one of artists. Then, what does it mean that depicting something inspired by Chinese subjects at the present day? I would like to find an answer to this question through Mise’s creations.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

  I have extracted this part from Natsunosuke Mise’s blog entitled “Synapse Drawf” (http://blog.livedoor.jp/kikei1973/archives/2009-02.html). This blog started from March 16, 2005 and ended on March 17, 2009. Now, you can access to his newly-created blog named “Nara⇔Yamagata” through the following address: //blog.natsunosuke.com/
Last Updated on June 13 2010

Editor's Note by Satoshi Koganezawa

This exhibition provides us with an opportunity to enjoy looking back on Mise's suiboku-ga which were created during the past year - from the “Hayopira” (2008) to the latest work “Chitose”. He has been using his original painting method continuously to create one picture plane containing small, interconnected parts. Nonetheless, for this exhibition, he utilized a method giving us a stereoscopic image of his works which goes beyond the field of planar creations. This ultimately made the image of each exhibit appear characterless. In the exhibition hall, his works blend with each other, and at certain moments, the hall is transformed into a natural landscape. (Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

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