Keiichi Tanaami "Dividing Bridge"


poster for Keiichi Tanaami "Dividing Bridge"

This event has ended.

Nanzuka Underground is pleased to announce "Dividing Bridge", a solo exhibition of new works by Keiichi Tanaami. The exhibition will feature life-sized sculptures and drawings in addition to the large-scale 2x3m painting, "Bridge to the Other World".

Keiichi Tanaami was born in Tokyo in 1936 and graduated from Musashino Art University. Tanaami is a one of a kind artist active since the 1960s as a graphic designer, illustrator, and artist who does not heed the boundaries of media and genre but instead traverses them. During his student days, Tanaami exhibited at Yomiuri Independent shows and collaborated with the likes of Ushio Shinohara and Tomio Miki, central members of the Neo Dada post-war Japanese art movement. After graduating in the mid-'60s, he was baptized by psychedelic culture and pop art, and began working in a wide range of media including film, silkscreen, painting and sculpture. He was especially inspired by a run-in with Andy Warhol in the late '60s, and has since been experimentally with challenging issues within contemporary art, including art and design, art and product, and the relation between daily life and art.

Tanaami has in recent years channeled much of his efforts onto the canvas. In particular, since 2010, he has been concentrating on making mainly large-scale paintings, mandalas of his 70 year-long personal history. These works contain, for example, many motifs drawn from Tanaami's childhood experience of war. Glowing grotesque creatures are personifications of bombs and the light from their explosions. Beams of light stretching outward recall the searchlights of Japanese troops keeping watch for American bomber planes. Skeletal monsters that appear in his works represent both those injured in the war as well as our selves, unaware of the true horrors of war. Goldfish-like characters also often appear in Tanami's work. This motif is deeply tied to a scene from Tanaami's memory etched permanently in his mind -- the image of light from the bombs reflecting off the scales of his grandfather's goldfish. Pine trees, seemingly pregnant with animal-like life forms, are based on hallucinations Tanaami witnessed when he nearly died from a pulminary edema at age 44. During his illness, for more than a week he suffered nightmares about pine trees tightening around him as they crept in spirals about his body. Traditional Japanese structures, Kabuki stages and drum bridges, also appear in Tanaami's works. In Japan it is believed that a red drum bridge connects this life with the next.

The exhibition is based particularly on Tanaami's strong interest in the unique meaning of a bridge. Tanaami explains, "The bizarre and dramatic combination of the severed head and drum bridge I had seen in a movie as a child, and the dead body and drum bridge I had seen during a nighttime air raid invites me to another world divided from this world by a bridge. Since his childhood, Tanaami has noticed the relationship between bridges and death, and has done much research about the mystery of the bridge as the cross point bridging this world and the next. "A long time ago, it was commonly believed that under the bridge "there exists, at any rate, a different world". The term "riverbed performer" is an example of how strong the ties were with the performing arts; that was where everything from street performances to kabuki took place. The derogatory term "riverbed beggars" was also commonplace, and deeply related to the expansion of the theater. The space beneath the bridge was believed to belong to another world, separate from reality, an alien world removed from every order, system and institution. Eerie, dubious freak show huts lined the banks, exposing the underbelly of society with sideshow attractions featuring the Long Neck Woman, snake ladies, dwarves and other "freaks" bustling in the dark. That strange space covered by the bridge as its roof was also a spot for hiding dead bodies and a secret gathering place for prostitutes. Brooding lovers, as an extreme breakup at the end of much languish, would throw themselves from bridge railings in miserable double suicides. No matter how you look at it, death is strongly related to and is a distinct feature of bridges in Japan."

The red bridge appears as a major motif in the main piece of the exhibition, "Bridge to the Other World", a large-scale painting measuring 2x3m, as well as in his new sculptural works. These bridges always appear along with skull characters. Along with the red bridge in "Bridge to the Other World", celebrated cartoon characters Atom and Popeye appear together with numerous deformed specters, monk ghosts, little girl ghosts and skeletons. In one sculpture, he recreates in model form a figure that appears in the painting, a skeletal girl carrying a golden, glowing baby in her arms as she crosses over a red bridge. Tanaami says that his personality morphs dark past experiences into positive expressions, but the world drawn here is Tanaami's ultimate paradise, transcending good and evil, affliction and fear.



From 2011-10-08 To 2011-11-12

Opening Reception on 2011-10-08 from 18:00 to 20:00


Keiichi Tanaami



All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
Tokyo Art Beat (2004 - 2018) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use