Kentaro Kobuke “Hiroshima Color”

Maho Kubota Gallery

poster for Kentaro Kobuke “Hiroshima Color”
[Image: Kentaro Kobuke left: "down" (2017) colour pencil on wood 84.1 x 59.5cm, right "The Crecent" (2017) colour pencil on wood 84.1cm x 59.5cm]

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Kentaro Kobuke moved to London in 2006, where he now lives and works. His instantly-recognizable works possess the exceptional creativity and power of expression that are his trademarks, and many are created using the very simple technique of drawing onto boards of cherry wood with colored pencils. Layers of color drawn with colored pencils include vibrant color fields, and sometimes translucent colors, through which smooth nuances in the surface of the cherry wood support emerge subtly, producing rhythmic variations of color intensity that form beautiful contrasts aligned with the grain of natural wood. This is the context for a world of people and forests, mysterious creatures, waterside scenes, and glimpses of everyday life.
Kobuke, who in his youth was impressed by the uninhibited paintings of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, bypassed the art university system many Japanese artists go through, achieving a unique style almost entirely through self-study. Leaving behind the early days of the rough, free drawings that attracted attention at the time of his artistic debut, and pursuing more profound artistic expression, Kobuke went to study at London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design, where he received his MFA.

In addition to expressing very personal emotions in a direct way, his recent work incorporates relationships between people, between individuals and groups, and between people and nature, and thereby portrays the fluctuations and changes of the wavering human psyche, transforming it into fable form using the artist’s narrative and making it universal. Although at first appearing to have no connection to social issues, or offer any critique of society, Kobuke’s practice is in fact a sophisticated method of revealing problems in contemporary society.

Many of the new works presented in this exhibition were created when Kobuke stayed in his hometown of Hiroshima for a four-month period after about a decade working in the UK. There are many faces of Hiroshima — the Hiroshima that gained global symbolism in the middle of the 20th century, the Hiroshima of today, and the Hiroshima of earlier times. As with his previous works, Kobuke’s bright colors cleverly hide motifs with just a bit of venom or darkness, as well as unidentifiable creatures. These works can also be seen as a reproduction of the natural world mixed together with the artist’s own interpretations, making the world of his art more vivid and enabling it to connect with our everyday lives, along with the wonders of the natural world. A pin on a map marks Hiroshima, but the colors spreading out from it are not special colors. With his artist’s gaze, Kentaro Kobuke seems to be communicating that these are bright colors that were originally drawn within the viewer’s mind. They represent the brightness of life that shines quietly but steadily in our daily lives.



from 5月 12, 2017 to 6月 24, 2017


Kentaro Kobuke



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