Past Exhibition

Kenjiro Okazaki | TOPICA PICTUS Tennoz

31 October - 12 December, 2020

Venue : Takuro Someya Contemporary Art


Takuro Someya Contemporary Art is pleased to present Kenjiro Okazaki’s solo exhibition TOPICA PICTUS Tennoz .

This exhibition, on view from October 31 to December 12 2020, is Okazaki’s second solo exhibition at TSCA this year.

Okazaki’s previous solo exhibition A Decade or So Ago・As Tears Go By , held in August 2020, featured twelve selected works made before the year 2010. This exhibition was the first time in roughly a decade that these works, which ranged from sculpture to painting to tile, had been exhibited, but they each held a special meaning to the artist and had been carefully preserved in his own collection. The show provided viewers an opportunity to think anew about the difficulties of our present moment, showing us how to not only reflect on the past but also turn our gaze to what may come next. The upcoming exhibition TOPICA PICTUS Tennoz is one of four departure points for TOPICA PICTUS, which takes A Decade or So Ago ・As Tears Go By as a sort of prologue. From March to June this year, Okazaki sheltered himself in his studio, producing over 150 works during this period of intense concentration. Beginning in mid-October, these works will be divided into exhibitions at multiple locations around the world, including art museums, galleries and bookstores. In addition, a catalog containing 138 of these works will be published. TOPICA PICTUS is a series that pushes the concept of the Zero Thumbnail series to a new level. The unprecedented motifs, titles, and bold compositions of these new works are full of surprises and discoveries to stimulate us, the recipients, to think afresh from various perspectives.


The first four locations of TOPICA PICTUS, including TSCA’s TOPICA PICTUS Tennoz , are listed below.

Exhibition: Exhibition dates at museums and galleries, including TSCA, are as follows.

●Toyota Municipal Museum of Art  Special Feature Exhibition Kenjiro Okazaki TOPICA PICTUS Kozakahonmachi Saturday, October 17 – Sunday, December 13, 2020

●The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo  TOPICA PICTUS Takebashi Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – Tuesday, February 23, 2021

● Takuro Someya Contemporary Art  TOPICA PICTUS Tennoz Saturday, October 31 – Saturday, December 12, 2020

● Nantenshi Gallery  TOPICA PICTUS Kyobashi Friday, November 6 – Saturday, December 12, 2020

*Please contact each museum/gallery for detailed opening hours.


TOPICA PICTUS Kenjiro Okazaki

What one paints does not always turn out to be a painting.How does something become a painting (work of art)? There is a word inJapanese, gaso (画素) which means “a pixel”. If we deviate from them eaning of ga (画), so (素) in Japanese and examine the combined meaning of the individual characters, ga (画) =picture, so (素) =essence,“the essence of a painting.” In other words, one could say gaso is a basic essence that makes up a painting. This interpretation of the word gaso sounds good to me. The word gaso also reminds me of another Japanese word kotoba(言葉)=word. When one spells out the word kotoba in Japanese, it is kotono-ha. Koto-no-ha could mean a tip or a clue (ha) for a word (koto), and also a catalyst (ha) of a happening (koto). The word kotoba therefore implies speech is made when the speaker already has some clue about what they are going to say. Similarly, if the word gaso evokes the impetus for a painting, then it is tempting to suppose that gaso is also an essence of an event that comes to existence through a painting. If gaso is like the flavor enhancer Ajinomoto (味の素), the essence of taste, then one could hope that gaso (画素) is also the essence of a painting, a flavor enhancer that completes the painting in its final stage. This is only my fantasy from the feeling of the word gaso, and not based on its common use. In any case, more than mere accumulation of techniques transforms a painting into art. (A painting is not a piece of plane surface that could be covered in paint with techniques. Techniques used to create a painting do not function like the filters for photographs used in an app on mobile phones). A painting becomes a work of art only if it materializes something original, is my old creed. (Some paintings are decorations that could be copied and mass produced as they are only infinitely repeated variations. And some are products of a type of manufacturing process such as painting walls.

There is a saying, “people work to eat”, acknowledging that eating is an essential part of human existence. Appreciating and creating art matters so much that painters dream of the essence of painting. Painters think that the purpose of life is to appreciate art. It may sound like an exaggeration, but for the work of art to exist as a singular object, to become original and complete, is equivalent to establishing a settlement that allows humanity to thrive. That is why we work. Aristotle thought that a topos=place must be understood by those engaged in the discussion in order to question, theorize, debate, examine, and assemble them. (topos is a context or situation that enables a problem to be raised, as well as raise the research question, establish a problem structure and the topic). Painting is no different. In order to produce a work of art, the landing place where the production arrives must first be understood. The production process is carried out in order to arrive at that place. Regardless of whether it is considered to be an abstract painting, its production is guided by the understanding of the landing place with its specific appearance and precise location. If the location of the landing place is not identified, the paintbrush would merely be slathering the paint on the surface of the canvas. The ability to deliver the paint to the specific landing place leads to the painting to be a work of art. The essence of painting therefore is the specific landing place. Just as there are various places in the world as well as issues (topics) to consider, there are places prior to there being a painting, as well as there are myriad of issues. Those places and issues make each painting unique, and the network of these places weave this world together. I have been confining myself in the studio since the end of February 2020, and have been able to produce paintings with more focus than ever. Being in a situation where I had no place to go reaffirmed my conviction that I could go anywhere through the act of painting. To be precise, paintings gravitate toward each singular landing place and make it possible for us to thoroughly investigate them.

Freedom of movement is the very foundation to individual’s freedom, and is one of the most important basic human rights. Perhaps when people migrate, they may do so in order to seek out the possibility of another life they may have led or actions they may have taken. Therefore movement is related to individual’s freedom. And furthermore, in reality, this possibility of another life descends on the person rather than the person visiting the place. Guided by the place in such a moment, people begin to think differently, and experience unimaginable sensations and burst out unfamiliar feelings. In order to facilitate this phenomenon, people travel or create. This is the place that descends as the essence of a painting. I had such uncanny experiences.

There may not be an opportunity to exhibit all of these paintings atone time. I recall when I visited the Hopi Settlement and asked if it would be possible to see all of the Katinas together. In response to such a foolish question, the Hopi elder chided me saying that each Katina is linked to a different place and event, so they would not all appear at the same time. While I am resigned to not having an opportunity to bring these paintings in one exhibit, at the very least, I wanted to bring these places without a physical location together in a book.


Kenjiro Okazaki (b. 1955) is a Japanese visual artist whose works span over several genres, including painting, sculpture, as well as landscape and architecture. Many of his works has been featured in public collections throughout Japan and in various exhibitions around the world. In 2002, Okazaki was selected as the director of the Japanese pavilion of the International Architecture Exhibition in Venice Biennale. His works include a collaborative performance ‘I Love my Robot’ with the choreographer Trisha Brown, premiered in early 2007. He received a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG) in 2014. Okazaki is also extremely active as a theoretician and critic, and is the author or co-author of several books, including Renaissance: Condition of Experience (Bunshun Gakugei Library, 2015) featuring his analysis of Filippo Brunelleschi, and Abstract Art as Impact: The Concrete Genealogy of Abstract Art (Akishobo, 2018) which received the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts in 2019.


Publication: TOPICA PICTUS by Kenjiro Okazaki Kenjiro Okazaki’s new catalog TOPICA PICTUS offers a rare opportunity to experience the entirety of these works, containing 138 of the 150 paintings which make up the series. Each hard cover book is clothbound, and includes true-to-size images of works printed in the highest quality resolution, forming an exquisite and powerful book. A message from the artist regarding this publication: “During their exhibition, these works will be separated in various different locations. I created this book as ‘a place without a physical location’ where the works can be together.”

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