“Dystopia/Utopia” Exhibition


poster for “Dystopia/Utopia” Exhibition

This event has ended.

There’s a visual thread in this group exhibition that you, the gallerygoer, can follow. It is an aesthetic throughline that carries us from the soft realities of Motoko Otsuki to the blissful uncanniness of Mariko Fujimoto and then on to the hazily edged abstraction of Tsukasa Kanawa. And alongside this purely surface story, the show’s curator, the artist Tomokazu Matsuyama, has identified themes for each artist—all three of whom are employed as assistants in Matsuyama’s studio.

Motoko Otsuki represents nostalgia, Mariko Fujimoto represents fantasy, and Tsukasa Kanawa represents the future. Taking in the work all at once, we can see how the realities of their works mirror the concepts inherent in the themes. Otsuki’s dreamy, fluffy confections give way to Fujimoto’s powerful techno fairies, which are then supplanted by the undistilled beat and glow of Kanawa’s lines and shapes. Nostalgia is a form of fantasy; fantasy drives the future.

Ultimately, the show’s curator sees this grouping as having an optimistic bent. In fact, the very idea of the future, which has certainly taken a beating over the past year, might be starting to glow with a tinge of positivity again. In Matsuyama’s adopted hometown of New York, there is a rising willingness to feel okay. “There’s a refreshing kind of energy that comes out now that we see the light,” he says. “A lot of people I know who make art are very stimulated after having come through 2020, which was obviously a nightmare for everyone.”

This is why Matsuyama also identified the complicated larger theme that arcs across the entire exhibition, and which gives it its title: Dystopia/Utopia.
The main concern here is the friction we find between utopian ideals and harbingers of dystopia. In their own distinct ways, thinking about and creating art around ideas of nostalgia, fantasy, and the future can be seen to represent different varieties of hope, an essential ingredient in the creation of a utopia. And today, as myriad dystopian scenarios keep creeping into our reality, art might respond equally in radical anger and hopeful imaginings. “I think artists can impart positive energy to the world,” Matsuyama says. “And now, as we emerge from the pandemic, is the best kind of moment in history for artists to envision optimism.”

Motoko Otsuki received her BA and MA from Tokyo Zokei University. Otsuki has had many solo exhibitions, most recently at Gallery M.A.P. in Fukuoka and Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store in 2019. Her work has been exhibited at Art Fair Tokyo numerous times as well as at fairs in Seoul and Osaka. In 2020, she was a guest lecturer at her alma mater. Next time you’re in Tokyo, you can see a mural by Otsuki at Kamon-ya restaurant in the Yurakucho Underpass Street in the Yurakucho District.

Mariko Fujimoto is a graduate of the Department of Oil Painting, Tama Art University, Tokyo. In addition to two solo exhibitions at Nanjo House and Musee Ginza in Tokyo, she has shown her work in numerous group shows across Japan. Fujimoto received the FACE Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Art Award in 2020. In 2015, Fujimoto received a residency from the Mixed Bathing World triennale at the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival in Beppu, Japan.

Tsukasa Kanawa’s first artistic endeavors were in the world of graffiti when he was 15. He subsequently attended Kougei High School of Nagoya with a major in Art and Design. After graduation, he moved to New York and undertook an internship at the Matsuyama Studio, where he has been since 2009. He most recently exhibited his work at Kinfolk 94 in Brooklyn.



from July 21, 2021 to August 29, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-07-21 from 18:00 to 20:00

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