Event Recap: Onishi Gallery Asia Week opening exhibitions

On March 14, 2024, YRB attended the opening reception at the Onishi Gallery for two exhibitions,

“Inoue Manji / David Stanley Hewett” and “KOGEI and Art.

The exhibition “Inoue Manji / David Stanley Hewett” brings together the work of two prominent KOGEI artists, one Japanese and one American, whose practices embody contrasting aspects of Japanese visual expression.

Inoue uses the purity of hakuji (white porcelain) to create works that offer a new perspective on Japanese minimalism. Well into his nineties, he continues creating masterpieces that affirm the timeless beauty of porcelain, nowadays sometimes with added color.

He has received countless awards and honors, culminating in his designation in 1995 as a “Living National Treasure” in recognition of his contribution to his country’s cultural heritage.

Makiyo Masa, founder of dekantā, collaborated with Inoue Manji on an exclusive Karuizawa Single Malt Whisky art project.

Liam Hiller, Head of Content for dekantā, gave a presentation about the Karuizawa whisky within the bottles, which was produced in 1999 and aged in sherry casks for 10 years.

After the presentation, guests enjoyed an exclusive sake and whisky tasting.

David Stanley Hewett, who has made Japan his home for almost 30 years, epitomizes the pre-modern ideal of the warrior accomplished in the arts of peace.

Working on a large scale in the medium of finest Japanese gold leaf applied to canvas or wood, preserving and re-imagining a heritage of gorgeous decoration with its roots in elite samurai culture.

His Barrage, a monumental work in acrylic and gold leaf, hangs in the main entrance of the United States Embassy in Tokyo.

Gallery director Nana Onishi has given the second exhibition the title “KOGEI and Art” to reflect the unique character of KOGEI, not seen in other cultures, and to emphasize its separate but complementary status compared to “Art” in the conventional Western sense.

Admired for promoting the best contemporary practitioners of KOGEI, for this exhibition Onishi has selected recent work in ceramics, metal, and lacquer by well-established artists and newcomers to the field. Coined nearly 150 years ago to translate the word “craft,” Today the term KOGEI has a higher significance, denoting works that, even at their most innovative, use materials and methods that have stood the test of time and reflect an unrivaled dedication to technical perfection and refinement from generation to generation over many centuries.

Alongside masterpieces by “Living National Treasures” such as Imaizumi Imaemon XIV, Nakagawa Mamoru, Ōsumi Yukie, and Murose Kazumi, the exhibition includes recent work by Rusu Aki and Konno Tomoko, two younger women who are building international reputations with sculptural pieces that combine technical rigor with an inventive approach to materials and processes.

Rusu uses ironworking techniques to make primal, assertive forms that exploit the processes of rusting and decay, showing us how rough-hewn matter can impact its surroundings to create visual rhythms that are both stimulating and reassuring.

Several institutions in Japan and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum have collected Rusu’s work.

Konno makes organic, otherworldly forms out of myriad components of marbleized, multicolored porcelain clay, creating worlds—simultaneously colorful and grotesque—that inspire conflicting emotions of aesthetic delight and existential dread.

Konno is featured in “Radical Clay,” a major exhibition of work by contemporary Japanese woman ceramic artists currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Photos by: Tymel Young

The KOGEI and Art exhibition is on view until May 24, 2024

Onishi Gallery is located at 521 West 26th Street in New York City

Click here for additional information

Jonn Nubian

Editor-in-Chief -YRB Magazine Internationally known, Nationally recognized, Locally respected.

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