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Exhibition of young Japanese art opens at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg
Kentaro Kobuke, Ike no bon bon, 2012.

BERLIN.- The Echo– Although I am still Alive is an exhibition dedicated to showcasing young Japanese artists and thus updating current conventions surrounding contemporary Japanese art. Opening on August 10th at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, the exhibition can be regarded as a statement by a new generation of artists.

Participating artists include Futo Akiyoshi, Satoru Aoyama, Ichiro Isobe,Taro Izumi, Kounosuke Kawakami, Keiko Kimoto, Kengo Kito, Kentaro Kobuke, Meiro Koizumi, Sako Kojima, Takeshi Makishima, Toshihiko Mitsuya, Nobuhiko Murayama, Kouichi Tabata, Kei Takemura, Takahiro Ueda and Shingo Yoshida.

All 17 artists – out of which 10 live and work in Berlin – share similar concerns reflected in their work in various ways. They are peers growing up in Japan at a time of oscillation between cultural heritage and the prevalent zeitgeist, of defining the Self and its position in the Here and Now, of foreign influences and changes from within, globally and locally. They also mark a break with the “superflat” aesthetics of their predecessors, and have instead established a visual language that emancipated itself from pop-culture clichés.

Although I am still Alive brings together a multiplicity of artistic positions, both in regards to content and to style. The classic paintings of Takeshi Makishima, who studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and is represented by the gallery Luis Campaña, whirr in the fairytale realm of the fantastical and the surreal. Signs and letters, recurrent motif in his work, cannot be decoded as typically European or Japanese language, but instead amalgamate into enigmatic hybrids.

The work of Kentaro Kobuke, on the other hand, who studied in Tokyo and Chelsea and has done illustrations for Comme des Garcons, couldn’t be any different. His drawings on cherry wood conflate contemporary narratives with Japanese mythology. Kei Takemura, who lives in Berlin and studied at the renowned UDK, weaves myriad stories into her space-filling installations. Found objects become representatives of unfamiliar life forms, posited next to objects that can be read as traces of history. Her work renders the invisible visible and projects the past into the present. Another example is Takahiro Ueda who taps weather satellites for meteorological data, and funnels them into his works and performances. Information about the properties of the atmosphere, not discernible by human eye, is thus translated into tangible action and performed as process.

A series conceived by artists, The Echo helps enrich the way contemporary Japanese art is perceived, and contributes to an active cultural exchange. The inaugural exhibition under this umbrella was The Echo – An Exhibition of Young Japanese Artists, which took place in 2008 in Yokohama. Further installments are planned for the near future.

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