Keiichi Tanaami “Amulet of the Tapir”


poster for Keiichi Tanaami “Amulet of the Tapir”

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Keiichi Tanaami was born in Tokyo in 1936 and graduated from Musashino Art University. He has been active in graphic design, illustration, film and fine arts since the 1960s, never heeding the boundaries of mediums or genres but instead continuing to aggressively traverse them through his unique practice.
In recent years Tanaami has drawn influence from scenes that permeate within his own memories and dreams to engage in creating so-called “mandala paintings” that serve to articulate his personal history spanning over 80 years. Tanaami’s latest works, while seemingly presenting themselves as uncanny yet pop renditions of supernatural demon illustrations, convey various memories related to his real-life experiences. USA bomber planes referenced from American comics and the personified bombs that shed radiant rays of light are profoundly related to memories of war, which Tanaami actually witnessed as a child. The “chickens” that appear in his new masterpiece, “Realm of the Afterlife / Realm of the Living,” as previously introduced in his 1975 film “Crayon Angel,” serve as metaphors for fighter planes that plunge to low altitudes for bombing attacks. Likewise, the various skeletal monsters represent those who have been injured in the war, and implicate our very own selves who live unknowing of fear. Such creative processes often take place within his dreams; Tanaami has kept a dream diary since 1978, and records of his dreams appear in various works. For example, the pine trees depicted as if embodying an animal sense of life are derived from images in a picture diary in which Tanaami recorded the hallucinations he saw when he found himself hovering on the edge of life and death while suffering from tuberculosis-induced pulmonary edema at the age of 44. Naked female figures also make frequent appearances in Tanaami’s works, and in the context of his dream diaries such sexual motifs are often introduced as subjects of fear, shown in parallel to the fearful experiences of war. Another motif that emerges often in Tanaami’s dreams is water, which brings to mind the relationship with waves that are depicted within the contours of his work.
Alongside such memories and dreams, works by Tanaami’s favored artists such as Chirico, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Jakuchu, and Escher make cameos throughout his new series of works. Such acts of citation are perhaps a natural progression that manifests as a positive efficacy for Tanaami, who continues to evolve through converting his fear towards “death” as well as traumatic experiences into energy. Tanaami enlists these works with an almost farcical explanation that they are, “the world that he himself would live in after death.” That which is depicted here, is a solitary realm that attempts to transcend all means of art, from pop and psychedelic, to surrealism.

The exhibition will feature approximately 10 new paintings including two new masterpieces with a width of three meters. Also presented is Tanaami’s new animation work, “The Laughing Spider,” which since being shown for the first time in his solo exhibition last year at New York’s Sikkema Jenkins Gallery has been screened at numerous film festivals including, the Academy Awards accredited St. Louise International Film Festival, Geneva International Animation Film Festival, in which it received the Special Jury Award, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, and Sundance International Film Festival.



from 6月 24, 2017 to 8月 05, 2017

Opening Reception on 2017-06-24 from 18:00 to 20:00


Keiichi Tanaami



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