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Text by Shinzo Okuoka

I am the sort of person who believes that, just as artists are expressers, so are galleries. While I will go into the implications of this belief later on, I think that a retrospective look at the achievements of biscuit gallery with the approach of the first anniversary of its opening will afford a view of another kind of expression, creation, or output of conviction.

Artists show their own identity mainly through their works. This raises the questions of where the individuality of galleries lies, what distinguishes, differentiates, and characterizes them relative to others, and how this is expressed. Although the answers naturally vary with the person, I would suggest, for example, that the key elements are the esthetic sense of the gallery owner or director, the presence or absence of regulation at work in the selection of artists, and the creation of a venue for exhibitions.

This brings up another question: just what is the ID that sets biscuit gallery apart from the many other young galleries? To put it in a slightly indirect way, I would say it is a lust for the times. Japan’s art scene is in an ongoing process of formation and development, and lust is at the very roots of efforts to grasp, analyze, and map it, and moreover all on a large scale and at a high speed. As I see it, the source of biscuit gallery’s appeal and power is precisely this lust. Proceeding from the pure and innocent question about the kinds of artists out there today in this age, biscuit gallery engages in style-making while staying attuned to the times. This is exactly why, at first glance, the scope of its coverage seems too vast to be handled by a single gallery. However, this is not the result of random action, and I believe that things will look different if viewed from a perspective on a little higher plane.

Consider, for example, the case of Vitamin Creative Space, an art scene player born in China in the early 2000s. This space studied the relationship of traditional Chinese philosophy, thought, and culture with contemporary art, and developed activities that mashed these elements up together. At present, both the space itself and artists whose careers started there are appearing on the international stage. The aforementioned “perspective on a little higher plane” is nothing less than the kind of vision this player has. In other words, it is a vantage for an overview of the relationship between a globalized world and our own local position.

In our view, the contemporary world is, on the surface at least, becoming exceedingly seamless and borderless. It is being redefined as a single mass society on a global level. Beginning in the 1980s, the ideas of Edward Said and others stimulated discussion of diversity. The network culture and metaverse concept hint at a shift from a world of physical separation to a new integrated topos. Meanwhile, the emergence of issues on a global scale and other factors engendered linkages with worlds “over there” which (we thought) had had no connection with us. As I see it, due to the aggregate effect of these and other developments, we have acquired a new sort of grammatical person, i.e., the “we who live in a globalized world.”

For this very reason, global standards and rules are now liable to be required in anything we do. The need for awareness of this “larger world” definitely applies to art as well. Contemporary art is undoubtedly a genre whose birth, spread, and maintenance are based in Western Europe, but the door is, of course, also open to other regions. Today, the distance between “global” (= Western Europe) and “local” (= non-Western-European regions) has greatly narrowed as compared to the past. What attitude must we adopt when we stand on this bigger stage and become involved in art from the standpoint of Japanese nationals? In my opinion, an excessive focus on learning from Western European players may not necessarily yield only benefits. If we take a step or two into the world, we find countless players already there. They have their feet firmly planted on the foundation laid by the dense history of their (i.e., Western European) art, which has been edited over such a long period of time. In addition, we presumably also notice that all of their discussion unfolds along the lines of this history. In short, I am afraid that, the more we learn from these Western European players or put this learning into practice, the higher the risk of being perceived as merely imitating the artists “over there,” regardless of our intentions.

I have digressed quite a bit from my main subjects here, which are the expressiveness of biscuit gallery and the wide range of its selection of artists. Based on the foregoing remarks, it is clear that one of the requirements for an art player is recognition of the “larger world view.” This must be accompanied by confirmation of one’s own positioning. In our case, I would define this as the awareness of being in the locale of Japan, and that this locale is but one part of the larger world. Next, we must ask ourselves which of our many assets we can put to effective use in competition in the larger world. Instead of further beating around the bush, let me simply state that I think, in its activities over this last year, biscuit gallery has been a kind of explorer.

To compete in the larger world and to make preparations for doing so demand knowledge of the world around us, as related above. Much of the work of a “gallerist” is performed together with artists. Over the last year, I believe biscuit gallery has practiced PoC-type action on the proposition that knowledge of the art and artists in your own country in the current age is a prerequisite for venturing out into the international art scene. The lust for the times I mentioned above is nothing less than the energy and drive needed for in-depth examination of the times we live in and the artists active in them. To return to the topic presented at the start of this text, what biscuit gallery is portraying is, needless to say, the contemporary art of this country and these times – something based on an eminently standard theme. That’s how it looks to me, anyway.

Shinzo Okuoka

Translate by James Koetting

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representated artists

Sawako Nasu

Sawako Nasu

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Sawako Nasu

Born in Tokyo, Japan, 1996

Education
2021
Oil Painting course, Department of Painting, Tokyo University of the Arts 
2021-present
Master’s Course Laboratory of Oil Painting I, Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School 

Tokyo University of the Arts – Kaichi Ohashi Memorial Award Scholarship certified

Concept

Sawako Nasu uses the language of painting to talk about distance, connection, and relationship. When reflecting on her own work, Nasu says, “How can I touch old paintings?” Underlying Nasu’s work is a sense of the absolute, unbridgeable distance that lies between the classical and modernist paintings she admires and their times and herself today, and it is this sense of distance that gives her art its thorough vision.
Nasu’s approach to the possibilities of painting by contrasting the era of classical painting with the era to which she herself belongs as a modern artist, goes beyond the scope of her personal interests and reflects a contemporary awareness of what is possible at the edge of art history, which is constantly being renewed.

Selected Exhibition

【Solo Exhibition】
2022
– “slipped moonlight”, GINZA TSUTAYA BOOKS, Tokyo
– “灯台へ”, myheirloom,Tokyo

【Group Exhibition】
2022

– “CROSSROADS”, WHAT CAFE, Tokyo
– biscuit gallery first anniversary exhibition “grid”, biscuit gallery, Tokyo
– Duo exhibition “最終観測者、?”, biscuit gallery, Tokyo
2021  
– Duo exhibition「b⇔d」, biscuit gallery, Tokyo

https://www.instagram.com/sawakonasu_/

 

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Exhibition

Yumi Nagata Solo Exhibition「positive」


biscuit gallery is pleased to announce the solo exhibition of Yumi Nagata, “positive”, from September 9 to 19, 2012. Using the expressions of girls that have been developed in Japanese art and subcultures as a guide, Nagata’s works straightforwardly and unabashedly reflect “self who draws girls and self who denies it,” “desire for transformation,” “desire for approval,” etc. in the world of contemporary painting. This is her first solo exhibition since graduating from Tama Art University this year. In this exhibition, 35 new paintings will be exhibited on three floors, each of which will be themed “positive”, “neutral”, and “negative”, with the aim of projecting and examining “myself painting a girl” through the works exhibited on each floor.

Yumi Nagata was born in Tokyo in 1997, graduated from Tama Art University in 2021 with a major in Japanese painting, and currently lives and works in Tokyo. At first glance, Nagata’s works may seem to follow the lineage of Japanese painting in Japanese art, which depicts girls in an aesthetic or caricatural way, but behind this lineage, Nagata herself says, “Girls, which I have used in animation, manga, and my own Japanese paintings, are a motif that I tend to avoid once I enter the world of contemporary art. As she says, “As soon as I entered the world of contemporary art, I felt that “girls” were a motif that tended to be avoided. In addition, there is an attitude of thinking about how one’s own cultural background and art historical context can be connected.

Nagata has said, “If I were to paint my work as a painting in the contemporary sense, there would inevitably be a contextual restriction that says, ‘This is the way it has to be. She sometimes stands between “the behavior that should be expected of a contemporary painting” and the painfully naive feeling of “drawing girls” that she has held since her childhood, and continues to create her works while being perplexed by the distance from this artistic dramaturgy. When we look at her own problems, there is a story that can be understood by artists of the same generation, namely, as a generation following the Japanese art trends such as Superflat, how to create new works and historicize subcultures and net cultures, which she has accepted as a matter of course and which have become the elements that form the basis of her own life, using what methods and theories. This is a common problem for the generation that has accepted these cultures as a natural part of their lives, not during their rise, but during their establishment.

Nagata has named the works in this exhibition the “layer” series. This is a double-meaning title taken from the unique layered texture created by her use of mineral pigments and the slang word for cosplayers, “layer. Nagata says that the girls depicted in her works are her own alter egos, a kind of self-portrait, and it can be said that the spirit of substitution or the desire to transform oneself into a lovable being is what makes Nagata’s works unique. Sometimes she wears eccentric hats, sometimes her head is shrunk to look like an anime character, sometimes she wears bizarre costumes, and sometimes the girls are dressed in Goth subculture. It may seem as if Nagata is narrating his own world and its story alone, far from reality. Nevertheless, if we compare it to the generation again, for the girls of the generation where animation and manga were commonplace, communication in the form of narrative is a more native method rather than frankly saying something. This is why her paintings are not only art for the sake of art history, but also a way to share the warmth of the world she feels as a story (=character), to connect, and to respond to this reality, just as Felix Gonzalez-Torres once presented works that endorse the sharing of sorrow and mourning. It is a way to share and connect with the warmth she feels in the world as a story (=character), and to respond to this reality. This is clearly a testimony of someone who looks at the times from the inside, and can be taken as a search for and resistance to what her generation can do in today’s contemporary art.

 

Outline of positive, a solo exhibition by Yumi Nagata

Period: September 9 (Thurs.) – September 19 (Sun.), 2021

Hours: 13:00 – 19:00 (12:00 – 18:00 on Saturdays and Sundays)

Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays

Venue: biscuit gallery, F1 – F3

 

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to inquire about the works.