Aoi Sasai Exhibition

Ando Gallery

poster for Aoi Sasai Exhibition
[Image: Aoi Sasai "Water Running Upwards" (2021) Oil on canvas 162 x 130cm]

Ends in 9 days

Born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1986, Aoi Sasai completed the Postgraduate Course in Painting at Musashino Art University. She has since depicted expressively distorted trees set against a neutral gray space and won acclaim for her striking artistic vision. Rather than trees growing wild on a mountain or in a forest, she has consistently taken common everyday trees, planted by people for some purpose, as her motif.
In October 2019, powerful typhoon 19 (Hagibis) struck the Japanese archipelago and brought widespread damage to every region. Immediately after the typhoon, on October 14, Sasai traveled to Mount Osore on the Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori prefecture, a place she had long wanted to visit. Her journey’s purpose, she says, was to converse with her departed paternal great-grandfather during the autumn itako no kuchiyose (spirit possession) rites held there. After several exchanges with her paternal great-grandfather, who was summoned, Sasai was advised by the itako (female medium) to visit her paternal great-grandmother’s grave, and Sasai left. Her new works, “Water Flowing Upward,” depict spring water rising at the shore of Lake Usuri, the mountain’s caldera lake. The water, which contains large amounts of sulfur, dyes the white ground a bright yellow and, etching numerous fine lines, flows into the lake. This scene remained vividly in Sasai’s mind’s eye on her return.
Two weeks later, she visited Ueda in Nagano prefecture to pay her respects at her paternal great-grandmother’s grave. Because of the recent typhoon, however, the railway had stopped and she was unable to travel into the mountains to reach the grave. Having come that far, however, Sasai began researching a map of the area and learned that an archeological site, Tobayama Cave, was nearby, so she headed there. In the Kofun period (about 300-538 AD), local communities buried and enshrined their dead in this cave, it is believed. The Tobiuo district where Tobayama Cave is located is also the site of the confluence of the Yodo and Takeshi rivers, branches of the Chikuma River. Under heavy typhoon rains, the surging river waters had eroded the riverbanks. Uprooted trees washed from upriver could be seen caught on the bridge. To enter the cave on the rocky mountainside, it was necessary to cross the river, but the river road was washed out, so Sasai had to give up on visiting Tobayama Cave.
Hearing that a similar cave lay behind Iwayadohoji Temple about fifteen minutes away by car, she went to see it. This horizontal cave, known as Iwaya Cave, is located on the slope of a mountain cliff. Archeological surveys in the cave had uncovered the bones of several human skeletons as well as ancient Haji earthenware and Sue pottery and jars. The cave, which resembles a gaping womb, is about 12m deep, its depths almost undiscernible in the darkness. Lingering there and giving her eyes time to adjust, Sasai could see three rounded earthen ledges in the shadows. Gazing intently, she lost herself in thoughts of ancient people carefully laying their dead on the ledges, and suddenly realized she was alone in the cave.
These paintings take as motifs the scenes and trees Sasai encountered on her trips to Aomori and Nagano. Sasai says the following about this exhibition: “Painting pictures is meaningful for some people and meaningless for others. Painting is not a perfect medicine, for it contains a kind of poison. With such thoughts and remembering the ground of the sacred places, I painted these pictures.” This exhibition, her first in two years, features eight new paintings rendered in oils on canvas and two watercolor drawings. We invite you to see and enjoy them.



from March 02, 2021 to April 24, 2021


Aoi Sasai

Website (venue's website)



Venue Hours

From 11:00 To 19:00
Closed on Mondays, Sundays, Holidays


Address: 3-3-6 Hirano, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0023
Phone: 03-5620-2165 Fax: 03-5620-2166

12 minute walk from exit A3 at Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station on the Hanzomon or Toei Oedo line, 15 minute walk from exit 3 at Kiba Station on the Tozai line, 16 minute walk from exit A4 at Kikukawa Station on the Toei Shinjuku line.

Google map

When you visit, why not mention you found this venue on Tokyo Art Beat?



All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
Tokyo Art Beat (2004 - 2021) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use