E’wao KagoshimaOctober 14 - December 6, 2014
Slowly, a rich and inclusive picture of Post-War Japanese art is emerging in New York. Exhibitions such as the Guggenheim’s Scream Against the Sky in 1994, MoMA’s Tokyo 1955 –1970–A New Playground and Gladstone gallery’s Requiem of the Sun–Mono-ha in 2012, followed by the Guggenheim’s Gutai–Splendid Playground in 2013, have fleshed out the unity and diversity of work that received little coeval exposure in New York. Takashi Murakami’s two Japan Society exhibitions, Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture in 2005 and Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York of 2007 have contributed important cultural and geographical context. Recently, Greengrassi gallery’s award-winning exhibition featuring Japanese pop surrealism from the 1970s at Frieze New York added to this evolving account.
E’wao Kagoshima (b. 1945) was just beginning to receive attention in Tokyo for his wildly imaginative yet deeply traditional art when he left for New York in 1976. This move sparked a remarkable blossoming at a critical moment when the ties of pop, minimalism and conceptual art were being unfastened. Grounded in the artist’s encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese and western myth and art history, Kagoshima received attention in New York’s burgeoning East Village scene in the early 1980s. This attention culminated in a New Museum exhibition of 1983, Workspace, where the artist reestablished his studio, working daily in the museum.
The current exhibition focuses on E’wao Kagoshima’s drawings and collage, displaying a group of figurative drawings from 1977, a series of atmospheric, almost abstract, graphite drawings from 1979, mixed media collages and dioramas from the late 1970s and early 1980s and a fantastical group of recent pencil drawings (2009-2011). These works emphasize the broad range and consistency of Kagoshima’s output, ranging from abstraction to realism, expressionist figuration to impressionistic orientalism. Kagoshima’s work is notable in its blend of Japanese sensibility, surreal fantasy and topical concerns (reference to current politics particularly informs his most recent drawings). These influences and concerns position Kagoshima as a significant contributor to late 20th Century Japanese art, and an incredibly relevant voice in today’s art world.