Takuya Yoshida Makes Art That is “Kawaii…but painterly”

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GR Gallery, NYC // January 18, 2024 – February 10, 2024

GR gallery is pleased to present Kawaii…but painterly, Takuya Yoshida first solo exhibition with the gallery and in New York City. Spreading around the whole space, the show will be comprised of fourteen new artworks on canvas in various sizes, almost entirely completed by the artist during his summer and autumn art residency in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Appositely conceived for the event, this new body of works expands Yoshida’s visual vocabulary with enhanced colors and symbols inspired by his experience in New England and deepen his discourse on the mythologization of everyday life and his reshaped interpretation of primitive art. Executed with the artist unique style, inspired by a nostalgic naïve aura and characterized by a vibrant and thick palette, these works are advancing a reflection on the importance of an emotional and poetical connection between people and nature, society and environment, especially critical in today’s circumstances.

Inspired by the idea of a cross-cultural exchange, the title refers to Japanese popular culture of cuteness, always vailed with hints of innocence and melancholy, now combined with a more westernized pictorial and perspective style, influenced by the myth of the Garden of Eden and the art movement of Return to Order. 

Yoshida’s canvases convey a desire for peace and universal love; to keep this desire fresh, he strives to complete his paintings in one go before his emotions subside. However, in the process of making a painting he ends up overpainting dozens of times until he is satisfied. The creatures in his paintings may appear kawaii at first glance, but a closer look reveals distinctive textures and brushwork that evokes painters of the Ecole de Paris era. Regarding overpainting, Yoshida describes it as “an indispensable process for turning my ideas and expressions into universal paintings.” The motifs that appear on Yoshida’s canvases include creatures with a somewhat lonesome appearance, evenings, nights, and skulls. These motifs continually appear among rather strange and awkward likenesses of people who strive to be strong in the face of the indescribable feelings of suffering and decay they face. Yoshida’s unique artistic vision may be described as the expression of this not-so-lighthearted subject matter in a unique and interesting way. His paintings use non-realistic colors and creatures to express eternal themes that people must face, including the human-created boundaries of race, border, and gender, along with other boundaries such as Heaven and Hell. The world of Yoshida’s artistic vision, with its harmony of chaotic colors and compositions, is perhaps not an impossible alien world so much as a world of hope that can be realized. Confronting solitude in Hokkaido in Japan’s rural north, Yoshida overpaints day after day, imagining a peaceful new landscape on the other side of the canvas.

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