Contemporary Art Exhibition 【CAF.Nebula Exhibition】

2010 CAF.Nebula Exhibition


Representative of CAF.N Accociation

 The year of 2009 can be described as the first year of a new century. Economy came first in the previous century increasing its power at an accelerated pace. The financial crisis crashed the whole earth in 2008 to cause and leave a mess. The 20th century regime went on even after 2000 when people talked about the end of the world. The new movements were boxed in, and the world was full of downturn feeling.
 Then, in 2009, there arises a sign of change in the mind of people about art along with the change in politics, and the outline of a new century is dimly showing up. There were a lot of outdoor art exhibitions in different local areas this summer. Lots of people visited them despite the inconvenient transportation, and many of them were art volunteers to join and enjoy the process of making artworks. The result was the smile on the faces of the local people who’d suffered from declining population.
 2009 CAF.Nebula Exhibition plans to test some new directions carrying “the spirit of NEBULA” with it aiming the increase of the power of art, bringing a new wind into art. We used to communicate with the artists from different cultures and invite overseas artists in order to get inspiration from their works. Recently, in the context of seeking opportunities of discovering a new art method, we closely watch the trend of young artists. CAF NEBULA staff voluntarily visit the graduation exhibitions at art universities/colleges to curate shows there, while studying how they add contemporary value to art.
 Meanwhile, CAF NEBULA is presenting a show titled “Installation of 3,000 pinwheels” at Kita Urawa Park with the support of Saitama Muse Forum (SMF). The show is directed by Kazuhiro Negishi and we expect people of all generations would join. In addition, another workshop is being prepared for parents and their children to enjoy, which is directed by a young artist, Toshiya Asami. CAF.NEBULA is planning to offer more programs that people can participate, so that it could connect local communities with our time by aggressively trying different art forms as well. CAF NEBULA will shine more like a nebula in the dark sky, swirling with the stars (artists) inspiring each other.
 I would like to close my greetings by giving my hearty gratitude to the sponsors, individual supporters, and those who understand and contribute to this exhibition in any way for their extensive and significant support.

Venerableness of Life

Keinosuke Murata (art critic/Director of The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art)

 CAF.N requested me to recommend a guest artist for their show. I said yes, and the next moment, I thought it would not be interesting to recommend another painter or sculptor, because CAF. N is a group of painters and sculptors. Then, I chose Mr.Tombo Kobayashi. His work is out of general sense of nude sculpture, much less of craft. I would venture to say it would be “human mold”. He makes a mermaid, a shark mermaid. Let’s call him Tombo-san, not Kobayashi-san (Mr. Kobayashi). His work is beyond ordinary manual work that is done just for fun or for fantasy. It must not be easy to ferment a place that is totally of freshness and commendableness. It weaves a dream by playing with thoughts and digging into imagination. Water has been his passion. He did not know how to express water. Mermaid was his first imagination that sprang out of water. Following the trace of fish in picture books, sharks became his passion without a reason.
 People are usually afraid of sharks. Now, it is Tombo-san. As he flips pages, he gets emotionally involved with a story of a bewitching girl of shark-like characteristics, who falls in love with the moon. Then, he reaches a page of “Utilization and Overfishing of sharks”. Reading on the context, he finds that the nuance of the book is different from that of Japanese ones. This discovery is very important.
 There were some stories that I got shocked to hear. Shark’s mouth is chopped off for the teeth to become the souvenirs for tourists, and they are thrown back in the ocean without a face. Some sharks lose its fin to be cooked as fin soup, and they can’t swim well any more. After he struggles for a while in the water, he gets eaten away by his friends. He does not sing a shark’s elegy, yet he links Venerableness of life with the love of the girl. He writes about this in his essay in the catalogue. I asked him to write about his purpose for art, and he was planning to do so. In the first place, to my opinion, artists are supposed to write their purpose for art, and it should not be an idle fantasy. CAF.N carries many ideas and ideals with it. Ideas and ideals stay as they are until they are realized. Therefore, the consciousness of reality by each individual artist is the key to this organization. The Taro Okamoto Museum owns a painting titled “Rules of Woods” by Taro Okamoto, in which a shark is painted. The painting was exhibited at Nika Art Exibhition in 1950 soon after WWII. When he came home from China after the war, lost weight, he found his house burned down. This painting was his fruit of four years of emptiness since he could get up on his feet as an artist after the war.
 In the painting, a bright red shark abruptly appears in the deep woods. People and animals are panicked. Yet, you see a zipper on the back of the shark, and you see his humor. At that time, social criticism was heated against violence in fascism. It was one form of freedom. Taro Okamoto might be thinking that you would only find useless stuff once you unzip the shark. In the end, meaning is meaningless. He wanted to paint the meaning of the meaningless. If you like it or not, a meaningless year goes by, another meaningless year comes in. During these years, every time a decent zipper is zipped down, you find stupid bloodshed everywhere on the earth. Tombo-san and Taro-san are standing there to dream the venerableness of life.

Tender is the art.

Yujiro Yoshioka (painter)

Guests from young generation: Mari Araki, Natsuko Kaneda, Haruna Tobari, Miyuki Mitsui

I had chances to visit lots of graduation exhibitions of art colleges/universities last year and early this year. I did not dislike visiting exhibitions by young artists. Mr. Y and I enjoyed hopping among exhibitions in Yokohama, Roppongi and Ueno. If I would describe the impression by a brief word, it would be an unknown feeling, “Tender is the art.” visually and tactually. It can be translated “naive”. It is delicate and gentle. It tends to avoid fights, and never gets closer to conflicts. Since I got a little alarmed as I relied on my impressions too much, I googled some books to pick up words that describe the young people today.
“I want to do only what I want to do.”
“I don’t care what has nothing to do with me.”
“I don’t want to think about my future.”
“I can do nothing when things have been decided.”
“I am in the minority anyway.”
“This is my decision, so…..”
“I just follow my decision…..”
“Young people don’t mind doing a makeup or eating food in the train.”
“I want to be with friends congenial to me.”
“I want to find true myself.”
“I want to be connected with someone somewhere.” ….etc.

I do not pick up those words intentionally, however, my first impression was right. Young people are not animated, though they are young. They are mentally weak, and can’t get angry when they are supposed to. “This is my decision, so….” “I just follow my decision….” … this type of thinking of self-decision makes me feel that they refuse to face reality. I am afraid if this has become the norm of their behavior.

A sign of something new
I sense at that same time that something new is coming out of the idea of “Tender is the art.” I smell something new out of their work, which we were not familiar with before. It is not the power that middle aged men show off, or rather it is like caring for your beloved cat while not caring what other people think. Their theme is soft. The materials they use are soft. The drawings they draw are tender. There is no graveness in their art. For example, an eerily impactful translation of ecology theme is hard to find, and I can’t help feeling unpleasant sensation. On the other hand, I have to admit that I see the origin of creation in their attitude of “I want to do only what I want to do.” “I am in the minority anyway.” I even feel jealous that they are totally absorbed in drawing their own images on a piece of paper in the corner of a room, and that they purely enjoy the time. Allegorically speaking, it is not art made in an atelier, but it is part of their daily life.
 Most of their works are, so to say, non-concept, which my generation of middle aged men can’t understand. Or it is just simple like, I am doing what I want to, and it becomes art. Art seems not necessarily be based on the awareness of social issues anymore. It is not bad to expose myself to this type of art. The world has evolved already. At all events, let’s look at the works by four young artists, Mari Araki, Natsuko Kaneda, Haruna Tobari, Miyuki Mitsui. Take your time. You must sense a flavor of new art.

Vortex of NEBULA

YUGUEN ONODERA, Executive Director

There seem two types in contemporary art. One is a kind that seeks breathing void in Space. The other one is a kind that dwells in Site. In other words, the former is a case that an artist releases his/her own concept into Space, which lacks of its character and is built for the exhibition purpose only. They are museums and art galleries. The latter is a case that an artist exhibits their artwork created reading the peculiarity of the individual Site with its own history and culture.
 In the years of miraculous economic growth in Japan, public art was installed here and there as a proof of prosperity. What was important at that time was the name value of the artist, or the fact that art was there, and it looked cool. It had nothing to do with the essence of art. Many of those public arts are not appreciated today.
 More than ten years passed since bubble economy burst, and now our society is showing a sign of change in what to expect from art. In August, there was an art installation event in the streets of Kawagoe, where you could still see the reminiscence of Edo (old Tokyo) town, as part of Sightseeing Renaissance Project organized by The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. This was an art even to boost tourism. Installation in the streets of a town is different from public art. It requires the interpretation of the nature of the site, and artists had to plan and create artworks based on that. The end benefit is that the cultural value of the town, which is buried in daily life, is rediscovered by art. Yet, the best part of the event is communication of art with the town via an individual person.
 While Japan has made a political effort of modernization since Meiji era, and established individualism after the war, the individuality of local community is lost, but they try to keep its small fire by themselves. Even though each of us is free from the chain of a local community and a big family, we, instead, form a nuclear family, become more isolated, and are disabled to communicate. When these isolated people are exposed to art, they are likely to show the attitude that they don’t understand art mumbling to themselves, “It is too late to ask.” In order to offer a solution to break this triple dilemma of a worn-out community, an isolated individual and a shortfall of explanation of art, artists are responsible to take actions by starting a sincere conversation based on their idea and philosophy by all means, considering the relationship with the space and the site where artwork is brought to. As Japanese society is deflating, CAF.NEBULA takes expanded actions to pick up fruit of hearty emotion as much as we can, by not blaming society of great individuality on the end-of-century thought.
 Lastly, I would like to give my warm gratitude to those who support CAF.NEBULA in any form of cooperation.