■ written by Chisai FUJITA

June 2016 


written by Ayako MIYAJIMA

(Curator, The NAtional Art Center, Tokyo)
Artist File 2013

January 2013 Catalog

written by Petra Neumann
BKZ Online

October 2013

written by Birgit Krueger

October 2013

written by Chisai FUJITA
PEELER interview

December 2012

written by Christiane Rikade

November 2011

written by Linda Cassens Stoian

(Critical Spatial Artist and Theoretician)
Thresholds[between Worlds] / May 2010

written by Natsumi ARAKI (Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Domain of Art 2 :

Jun AZUMATEI Exhibition February 2009 Brochure

written by Chisai FUJITA
PEELER interview

October 2007

written by Chisai FUJITA
PEELER Reviews

August 2007

written by Natsumi ARAKI (Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Talk on air

May 2006 Brochure

written by Yuuichiro TAKASHIMA (Curator, Setagaya Art Museum)
Touch me if you can ノ Gallery Review, Bijutsu Techo Monthly Art Magazine

January 2006, p.213 Magazine

written by Sayaka Ishiyama
PEELER Reviews

December 2005

written by Kaori KAMISAWA

(art cocoon/director)
soul container vol.59.60

Nobember 2005

written by Hiromi SAITO(Writer)
Bunkamura Art Show'05 The Artifical Paradise

August 2005 Brochure

written by Yoshiyuki ISHII

(Editor/Writer) Acrylics World23, Bijutsu Techo Monthly Art Magazine / September 2004,

p.169-173 Magazine

written by Motoaki HORI

(Chief Curator, Opera City Art Gallery)
Project N17

May 2004 Brochure

Project N 17
Project N17 press release

April 2004


about KARASUTEI / 烏亭
Text writting(JP/EN) : Chisai FUJITA(Art-Writter)

執筆(日本語/英語) : 藤田千彩(アートライター)

"KARASUTEI" is a group of artists that got its name from combining the artists Hidetada Karasuyama and Jun Azumatei started the group in 2010. Their activities consists of installations and live performances.



KARASUTEI ENJYO Live Performance
2&3 April 2016 / Miyakobashi Echo’s in Yokohama

KARASUTEI had a live performance using candles in a small bar in Yokohama city, Japan. KARASUTEI and the viewers set fire to the candles on the stainless wheel. In an unspecific location a lot of people came, talked, drunk alcohol together and took part in the performance.
In common understanding among the people of the world, the fire of candles represents joy and it is used in prayers.   
After the performance is finished the leftovers that the melted wax piles and burned tray become the another artwork.

4 April-7 June 2016 / BankART1929 in Yokohama

KARASUTEI is not tied to an existing system so the exhibition can display the completed artwork. Having a process for making artworks is important for them you make a point and show their complete performance.
They worked there with such dedication, like children’s dedication to their game.
They participated in the Open Studio, BankART1929 where 50 artists create artworks. In this indoor space, KARASUTEI continued to lit candles. They placed the candles on two wheels made of stainless steel, one parallel to the table and another vertical to it hanging by a wire.
During their stay there, they continued to light candles.
Day by day their experience was unique, the direction of the wind changed, the flame became bigger or smaller and the melted candles continued to pile. Some people, interested in art gathered at the KARASUTEI’s space. It is like children showing their game to other children.
KARASUTEI considers as art both the making process and the end result of it.

烏亭炎上 ライブ
2016年4月2日、3日 / 横浜都橋商店街 Echo’s


烏亭炎上 公開制作
2016年4月4日-6月7日 / 横浜馬車道 BankART1929



MIYAJIMA Ayako, Curator,

The National Art Center, Tokyo

Artist File 2013

Azumatei Jun has been engaged since 2001 in producing a series of works entitled Float, an example of which is presented in this exhibition (Fig.1). The smoothness of the image plain may it appear to be simply a photograph capturing a beautiful, yet feeling, moment of the sky’s ever-changing expression. In actual fact, it has been crated using a photograph of the sky, rendered on an ink-jet printer, to which acrylic paint and aqueous varnish were repeatedly applied, and the dried surface sanded each time. The paint and varnish from thick layers.

This unique method is structurally connected to the artist's creative interest in the visualization of the concept of "memory": a persistent theme in Azumatei Jun's work. Here the photograph on the bottom layer corresponds to the "record," which is objective and incontrovertible, and the multiple layers of paint and varnish applied over it are the "memory," which is subjective and uncertain.

Human memory constantly wavers. It can automatically embroider unpleasant recollections, blur details of once-unforgettable events and eventually bury all in oblivion. Satisfying a fervent desire to hold on to wavering memories, people in earlier days placed their trust in painting; since the nineteenth century, photography has served the same purpose. Describing the reproductively objective quality of photography, the film critic Andre Bazin once wrote: "Originality in photography as distinct from originality in painting lies in the essentially objective character of photography." *1

Obviously, when talking about photography, the choice of subjective judgments; moreover, in today's digital age, the wholesale manipulation of images is a simple matter. Even so, we are still apt to assume that what see in photographs is fact. Azumatei sometimes found, however, that images recorded in photographs did not necessarily correspond with his memories of an event; instead, they gave rise to an uncomfortable feeling something was wrong. On the one hand, there was the pretended truth asserted by photograph to be a record of fact; on the other, there was the sense of reality within himself that could alter, disturb and occasionally even deny the photograph. For the Float series, in order to explore the connection between these two "truths," Azumatei chose the motif of the sky.

His choice of motif was born out of a coincidence. Azumatei took a trip to Europe to prepare for a solo exhibition in London in 2002. Nothing amazed him more than the rapid changes he observed in the sky patterns above London. He started taking photographs of the sky, and these became the basis for his creative endeavor. In the sky's outstanding feature, the kaleidoscopic transformation of clouds, the artist found a parallel to the human memory. Another aspect that appealed to him was the sky's potential - inasmuch as it is universally familiar ? to occupy a place in memory that stretches beyond personal boundaries. Around this time, it is said the artist also started to feel that the mindset of people might be excessively restricted by the concept of gravity. The sky ? where neither direction, nor position nor border strictly applies ? could serve as an equally appropriate motif for his problem awareness.

The photographs of the sky forming the bottom layer of the Float pieces are captured in a moment, whereas the manual tasks of applying paint and varnish and sanding require time. While repeating these manual operations, the artist's mind is presumably in constant, committed before. Put in times of Jungian depth psychology (fig.2), this might correspond to the process of moving from the layer of the consciousness into the depths of the unconscious. While clear memories stay in the consciousness, wavering memories keep crossing the border between consciousness and the individual's deeper unconscious mind. Irretrievable memories sink down to the nethermost layer of the personal unconscious. Underneath the personal unconscious lies the realm of the collective unconscious shared by all humankind, transcending individual boundaries.

By pursuing his memories of the sky into the unconscious, occasionally going even further down to the substrata of the psyche, he is attempting to salvage from the depths someone else’s memories of the sky or memories available to everyone. The accumulated recovered memories are visualized in Float as an elusive image of the sky, by means of a multilayered structure comprising thick beds of paint and varnish with a smooth finished surface. At a glance, it looks like a photograph of the sky. But, rather than being misled by appearances, if we look more closely we will begin to ask ourselves whether this is a photograph or a painting, and our gaze will move incessantly over the surface of the picture trying to hold onto its fleeting image of sky.

Looking at these sky images of clouds that seem on the point of moving, it is hard to know whether they are formed on the surface of the thick layers of paint, or confined somewhere within them or possibly exuded from the layers. We can never be sure what we are looking at or what part it is. While opposed elements, such as background/motif, ground/figure and layer/plain, can be seen in the picture, and are not completely foregone, the boundaries between them are hard to grasp. The title, "Float," having already evoked the volatile sky and changing memories of it, is now connected to the uncertainty of the observer's own vision. Our inability to reach a point of resolution makes us want to continue looking at the picture. The uncertainly about what we are seeing, which gives rise to an apprehension of the unreliability of perception and judgment, forces us to look at the works in the Float series in active way.

As an artist, Azumatei Jun seems gradually to have become interested in expanding the effect produced by individual pieces in Float, shifting the focus to the entire exhibition space. His showing in 2009, DOMAIN OF ART 2* AZUMATEI JUN EXHIBITION (fig.3) clearly represented a move in this direction. This installation consisted of several pieces from a series of large circular works, entitled Fiction, that were derived from Float. The circle form ? with its indeterminate top and bottom or left and right ? permits an omnidirectional point of view, in both exhibiting and seeing. By combining several circular pieces, with this intrinsically omnidirectional quality, and then going further, by randomly embedding them in a sand-covered floor, the installation rejected the idea of a "right position" from which the work should be viewed, leaving it entirely up to the viewer. In other words, the exhibition reinforced the viewer's autonomy.

After this exhibition, in July 2009, Azumatei took up residency in Basel, Switzerland. Since then his creative efforts have been devoted to further penetration of the same questions brought up by Float but using different materials and methods. I will now trace the progress of these efforts by reviewing some individual works.

In June 2010, he gave a solo exhibition in Basel entitled Thresholds. The outstanding feature of the works on show was that they were created by sticking masking tape onto walls. Masking tape is normally used to cover parts that are not to be painted. In these works, however, it is used in lieu of paint: the normal functions are reversed. Also noteworthy is that the borderlines separating the masking tape figures from the surrounding wall (i.e., the ground of the painting) are immediately apparent. In Float, as we have seen, Azumatei set out to nullify the modern dichotomy of figure and ground, by blurring the boundaries between them. Thresholds, on the other hand, can be seen as another approach to the same issue but from the opposite direction. Let us focus on the second work using this method, applied to the walls of a gallery in Hamburg (fig.4). Here the artist has reversed the figure and the ground, using masking tape. The borders between the two areas are so distinct the viewer must surely notice their presence. And yet, if asked which is the figure and which the ground, they would be struck for an answer. As well as being intertwined with each other, the two areas seem to be ever expanding, eroding the walls of the gallery. While able to recognize the evident separation of the two areas, the viewer is disconcerted, unable to settle on an identification of figure and ground or fix the boundaries of the surface.

Other works, incorporating old bedsheets, along the lines of Azumatei’s Sad but True_y (fig.5), shown at a solo exhibition in Tokyo in October 2011, represent further attempts to pursue the effect of blurred borders ? the defining feature of Float ? by applying different techniques. This piece was created by dropping aqueous varnish and poppyseed oil onto an old bedsheet stretched across a wooden frame. This peculiar technique can be positioned as an extension of method used in Float. It is defined, in the words of artist, as "the overwriting of memories."*2

His choice of an old bedsheet for his medium arose from the following episode. One day, while visiting a secondhand shop in Basel, where he lives, Azumatei found some bedding, including used sheets and pillowcase, among the articles on sale. This intrigued him. Whereas people in Japan were unlikely to use sheets passed down from someone else, in Europe they were not. Married to an Italian, the writer Suga Atsuko has recalled from her time living in Milan in the late 1950s and 1960s: "My octogenarian mother-in-low, in her last years, was laughing as she told me that some of the dish towels she was using were mere fragments of what was once a sheet, which she had spun and woven herself."*3 For Europeans, linens were important traditional items in a trousseaux; rather than being treated as expendable, they were looked after carefully and when exhausted for one purpose were adapted to another. It is no exaggeration to say that, in western culture, the bedsheet can be equated with its user. Besides which, if we consider about a third of our life is spent sleeping, the relationship seems obvious.

From this perspective, Azumatei treats the used bedsheet as an object harboring the memories of former owner. The artist stretches a sheet ? impregnated with the memories of some unknown person ? on a wooden frame. He then drops aqueous varnish and poppyseed oil onto it. They mix with each other, expand, change color and produce slightly uneven yellow smears. He waits until they dry before repeating the process. It is said to take him three months to complete a work. The artist is not able to control the expansion of the media or the process of discoloration. Furthermore he is obliged to wait. This is a frustrating technique for its exponent. Azumatei has remarked: "It is a part of the work to look at the smears, that appear somewhat like a map, while saying to myself 'this is really a long-term, collaborative process involving others'."*4 The artist’s words seem to affirm that only by undergoing this frustrating process can he join up with the memories of the person who once lay down on the sheet.

The picture has two areas: the map-like yellow figure, representing subtle gradations of tone generated by the mixing of varnish and oil, and the intact white ground of the sheet not permeated by the media. The boundaries between them, however, are extremely vague and indistinct. Additionally, the painted frame underneath and the wall behind it seem to faintly appear through the sheet. Perplexed, the viewers strains his eyes all the more, due to the uncertainly of his own vision. In terms of physical structure, the layering may remind us of Float, with its overpainted photography, but the work's dimension of transparency clearly separates it from the other. Even so, the visual effect achieved by Float ? that previously described ? has a definite correspondence to the disturbed vision experienced by viewers of this work: the uncertainty caused by the vague definition between figure and ground and the indeterminate physical depth.

Afterwards, in November 2011, Azumatei showed the installation Sad but True at a group exhibition in Basel. This time he traced, rather forcefully, the borderline between the yellow figure and the white ground (which had been indistinguishable in the "bedsheet" painting) and then recreated the picture, transposing the figure and the ground by use of thousands of golden thumbtacks. The materiality of the metal is conspicuous (fig.6). In the "bedsheet" paintings, the yellow areas were nearly integrated with the white areas ? regarded by the artist as those parts where the memories of the former owners remained intact. But now this white area acquires a distinct shape formed by the multitude of glittering golden dots. It is worth nothing that two previously-seen methods are united here: the method which visualized the uncertainty of the boundary, as in Float and the "bedsheet" paintings, and method which paradoxically questions this vagueness by clearly marking the boundary, as in the "masking tape" paintings. In this work with thumbtacks, the relationship between the two areas is even more complex. In the "bedsheet" paintings, the borderlines between the areas were blurred the limits of their expansion were blurred, though the limits of expansion were controlled by the supporting format. In the transposed picture with golden dots, on the other hand, the boundary between the areas is distinct, but the white seems to be a vast of wall ? here, it is the ground that confuses the viewer’s visual sense.

I would also like to comment on the title "Sad but True." It derives from the 1993 song by American heavy metal band Metallica. Azumatei says he adopted this title especially after 11 March 2011, the day of the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In the artist's words, what the title is meant to suggest is a 'Uhhh…tut' or maybe something like a clicking of the tongue…with a sigh in resigned tone”*5 What is notable here is that, unlike his earlier titles, such as Float or Thresholds, this one contains a quotation from someone's words, an expression of sentiment and motion; it even personalizes the works themselves, quietly evoking something like a narrative hidden within. I feel this will further stimulate and enrich the viewer’s imagination.

The installation plan Azumatei Jun has suggested for this exhibition may be seen as an attempt to extend the complex structure and effects of Sad but True throughout the entire viewing space. Entering the exhibition room, measuring 16 meters by 12, the visitor is greeted by a space from Float series(fig.1) and a "bedsheet" painting(fig.5). Further on, there appears a rectangular platform on the floor, resembling a bed. A “bedsheet” painting is buried in the top of it. Beyond the platform stands a wall of large wooden frames forming random grids, as if cutting across the exhibition room. In the grids, 18 "bedsheet" paintings are inserted. Passing through an opening in the grid-wall, the visitor is confronted by sets of several tens of thousands of pearl pins on the facing wall. These pins describe a figure that is the material embodiment of the white areas constituting the ground of the "bedsheet" paintings of various sizes seen in the grid. Without a doubt, the constructed will keep stirring the imagination, by quietly, yet definitely, disrupting the viewer's vision.

Finally, I would like to add something about the "bedsheet" paintings inserted in the wooden frames(fig7.8). Their feature is the red and green color applied in pencil to the original floral patterns of the sheets. In this way, each piece seems to take on a more distinctive character. Theimpression is emphasized by the work’s titles, such as Q-A2:Is it all a lie? (fig.7), Cy-B3:No matter what happens, it will eventually wither away.(fig.8) and so on. All the "bedsheet" paintings are given titles that suggest quotations from someone's words: possibly a monologue or part of a conversation. I wonder if these titles don't lend each piece a certain personality.

Who is uttering the words: the former owners, the artist himself or a personality arising from their intertwined memories? Could it be someone we know, possibly even ourselves? Somehow they seem to signify the start of a story. No doubt the story of each of us.

宮島綾子(国立新美術館 主任研究員)

Artist File 2013









東亭は、「Float」の1点1点が喚起するこの作用を、個別の作品から展示空間全体に敷衍することへと、次第に関心を傾けていったように思われる。2009年の「DOMAIN OF ART 2:東亭順展」の展示には(fig.3)、この方向性を明確に見てとることができるかもしれない。このとき東亭は、「Float」から派生した、大型の円形の作品「Fiction」を複数組み合わせたインスタレーションを行った。天地も左右も定めえない正円は、展示と鑑賞の双方において全方位的な視点を可能にする。すでにそれ自体で全方位的な視点を内包する円形の作品を、複数組み合わせ、壁に展示するだけでなく、床に敷き詰めた砂にランダムに埋め込んだインスタレーションは、作品が見られるべき正しい位置という概念を排し、鑑賞者に全面的に見方を委ねる、言い換えれば、鑑賞者の主体性を誘発するものであった。



他方で、東亭が2011年10月に東京での個展で発表した《Sad but True_y》(fig.5)に連なる、中古のシーツを用いた絵画の仕事は、「Float」を特徴づける境界の曖昧さを、別様の技法によって追求する試みに位置づけられるだろう。この作品は、古いシーツを木枠に張り、そこに水性ニスとポピーオイルを垂らしこむことによって制作されている。この独自の技法の特性は、「Float」のそれの延長線上に位置づけられるもので、作家に身の言葉によれば、「記憶の上書き」と定義される(註2)。

中古のシーツという素材の選択は、バーゼルに暮らす東亭が、ある日、現地のセカンド・ショップでシーツや枕カバーなどの寝具が売られていることに気付き、興味を抱いたことに端を発する。他人が使ったシーツを使うなど、日本では考えにくいが、ヨーロッパではそれを買い求める人がいるのである。1950年代末から60年代を通じてミラノに暮らした須賀敦子が、「私の姑も、八十過ぎの晩年に使っていた何枚かの皿ふきんは、自分で紡いで織ったシーツのなれのはてだと言って笑っていた」(註3) と回想しているように、ヨーロッパでは伝統的にリネン類は重要な嫁入り道具のひとつであり、消耗品というよりも、さまざまに用途を変えながら大切に使われるものであった。してみれば、西欧文化圏において、シーツは、その使用者とほぼ同一視されうるアイテムといっても過言ではないだろう。また、人はその生涯の約3分の1の時間を眠って過ごすという点でも、シーツと深く関わっている。



次いで、2011年11月のバーゼルにおけるグループ展で発表した「Sad but True」のインスタレーションにおいて、東亭は、シーツの絵画でほぼ判別不可能なものとして提示した黄色い図像と白い地との境目を、半ば強引に書き起こし、その地と図を反転させた鏡像を、物質感のある何百個もの金色の画鋲によって明示した(fig.6)。絵画では黄色の領域と半ば一体化していた白い領域 - 作家はそれをシーツの持ち主の手つかずの記憶が残る領域と見なす - は、金色に輝くドットの連なりによって、鮮明なかたちを与えられる。ここで特筆すべきは、「Float」とシーツの絵画に共有される、境界の不確かさそのものを可視化する手法と、マスキング・テープの絵画で追求された、境界の明示によって逆説的にその曖昧さを問う手法が、ひとつに結ばれ、領域の関係性がさらに複雑化されていることだ。絵画では二つの領域の境目は曖昧であったが、それらの範囲は支持体によって限定されていた。対して、鏡像にあっては、領域間の境は明快でありながら、どこまでも広がる白い壁??地の領域が、観者の感覚を惑わせる。

もうひとつ付言しておきたいのが、「Sad but True」というタイトルについてである。とくに3.11以降に制作した作品に付すことが多かったというこのタイトルは、アメリカのバンド、メタリカの楽曲(1993年)のそれに由来する。直訳すれば「悲しいけれど本当さ」となるが、作家はこれの示唆するところを、「「フゥー・・・チッ」というような諦めを含んだタメ息まじりの舌打ち?のような感じ」(註5) と述べている。ここで注目したいのは、このタイトルが、それまでの「Float」や「Thresholds」とは異なって、誰かによって発せられた言葉や、その心情、感情を連想させることである。それは、作品に人格を纏わせ、そのうちにひそむ物語性とでも言うべきものを、ほのかに喚起する。その含みは、観者の想像力を豊かに刺激するものではないだろうか。

本展のために東亭が提示した展示プランは、この「Sad but True」の重層的な構造と作用を、空間全体に拡張する試みと言えるかもしれない。16×12メートルの展示室に踏み入れた私たちを出迎えるのは、「Float」シリーズからの1点(fig.1)と、シーツを用いた絵画1点(fig.5)である。さらに先を見やると、床上に置かれたベッドのような矩形の台が目にとまるだろう。その上面にはシーツの絵画が1点はめ込まれる。その先には、ランダムな格子をなす大きな木枠が、展示室を斜めに横切る。木枠にはシーツの絵画18点がはめ込まれ、門のような開口部がひとつある。それを通り抜けると、目前の壁に、何千本ものパールピンの連なりが現われるはずだ。それらは、木枠にはめられた大小さまざまなシーツの絵画の地をなす白い領域を、ひとつの図像として物質的に浮かび上がらせる。そこにはきっと、私たちの視覚を静かに、だが確実に揺さぶりながら、想像力を無限にかきたてる空間が出現することだろう。




1. Andre Bazin, Qu'est-ce que le Cin?ma? I : Ontologie et Langage, 1958, Paris, p.15. 邦訳:アンドレ・バザン/訳:小海永二「写真映像の存在論」、『映画とは何か』2、美術出版社、1970年、p.19
2. 作家より提示された本展プランのメモ、2012年8月21日
3. 須賀敦子「プロシュッティ先生のパスコリ」、『ミラノ 霧の風景』、1990年、白水社(『須賀敦子全集』第1巻、河出書房新社、2006年、p.39)
4. 筆者宛のメール、2012年6月7日
5. 筆者宛のメール、2012年10月28日

林道義『無意識への扉をひらく ユング心理学入門I』、PHP新書、2000年

Kunstvolles Spiel mit Damast
Von Christine Schick
Japanischer Maler und Grafikdesigner Jun Azumatai zeigt im Atelierfenster seine Werke
Von Petra Neumann

MURRHARDT. Auf dem Wolkenhof fand eine kleine, feine Vernissage statt: Der japanische Maler und Grafikdesigner Jun Azumatei stellt im Fenster des ehemaligen Heinrich-von-Zuegel-Ateliers drei seiner Werke aus. Das Besondere an ihnen: Sie sind auf Damast gemalt und dadurch semitransparent. Wenn der Besucher sie vom Raum aus, gegen das Licht betrachtet, wirkten sie wie bunte Scherenschnitte. In Japan selbst ist Damast unbekannt, obgleich die Webtechnik einst in China erfunden wurde und ueber die Seidenstrasse nach Europa kam, mit einer wichtigen Zwischenstation - Damaskus - woher sich auch die Bezeichnung ableitet. Vor vier Jahren kam Jun Azumatei nach Europa und in die Schweiz. Dort entdeckte er diesen Stoff, der ihn derartig faszinierte, dass er ihn als Leinwandersatz verwendete. Er bearbeitet die Grundlage mit Filzstiften und bemalt sie weiter in mehreren Schichten. Ein Stueck weit ist das Thema vorgegeben. Die Muster sind die primaere Ausgangslage. Sie koennen ganz fein auf der einen Seite koloriert sein und auf der anderen Seite sind dann die Zwischenraeume wie Puzzleteile ausgemalt. Oder das Rosenmuster wurde in Weissbelassen, der Rest schwarz gehalten, was wie eine viktorianische Tapete wirkt. An manchen Stellen zeugen Flecken von der Geschichte der Damaststoffe als Tischdecke oder Bettwaesche. Insofern wird ein Stueck Privat- und Alltagsleben in die Oeffentlichkeit verlegt - jedoch in kuenstlerischer Verfremdung. Interessant war auch die Praesentation der Bilder. Die drei Werke waren in ein Gestaenge, aehnlich eines Paravents, bemalt mit feinen Tupfen, eingefasst. Das erinnerte an einen japanischen Raumunterteiler.

Jun Azumatei arbeitet auch viel mit Fotografie. So hat er sich in London vom raschen Wechsel der Wolkenformation inspirieren lassen und eine Serie Wolkenbilder kreiert. Sie sind eine Kombination aus Fotografien, die er vergroessert und dann malerisch verfremdet. Bei einer Ausstellung konnten die Besucher die Werke nur aus der Ferne sehen, sie waren so angeleuchtet, als waeren sie Glasbilder. Wolken scheinen dem Kuenstler so wechselhaft und launisch wie Erinnerungen, die aus der Vergangenheit auftauchen.

Auch der Damast steht fuer Vergangenheit, diese fein gearbeiteten Textilien gehoeren einer anderen Zeit an. Ein Stueck weit bringen sie gelebte Geschichte mit, um dann in der Gegenwart modifiziert zu werden. Die Ausstellung von Jun Azumatei ueberschneidet sich auch mit dem (Kunst-)Handwerkermarkt, sodass quasi ein Kreislauf geschlossen wird: Bevor der Damast zur Kunst erhoben wurde, war er ein von Hand geschaffenes Produkt. Fuer Jun Azumatei jedenfalls ist er ein Stoff, mithilfe dessen seine Traeume Wirklichkeit werden, obgleich er im Titel einer Ausstellung im Jahre 2011 in Zuerich behauptete: "I still haven't found what I am looking for" (Ich habe noch nicht gefunden, was ich suche). Die Ausstellung im Atelierfenster, Wolkenhof 14, Murrhardt, ist bis zum 1. Dezember zu sehen. Wer Lust hat und noch sch?ne, aber funktionslose Damaststoffe zu Hause hat, ist eingeladen, sie mitzubringen, damit Jun Azumatei sie zur Kunst erheben kann.


Ein Fenster inmitten der Welt

Volkenhof, Murhardt, Germany

​03 Oct - 01 Dec 2013

by Birgit Krueger (DE/EN)

Waehrend eines Aufenthalts in der Schweiz entdeckte der japanische Kuenstler Jun Azumatei ein Material, das seine Malerei seither begleitet, alte Damastbettwaesche.
Jun Azumatei sammelt sie in Second Hand Laeden und spannt sie wie kostbare Preziosen auf Keilrahmen, um sie dann in feinen Schichtungen malerisch zu ueberarbeiten. Die gewobenen Muster werden kommentiert und die in Gebrauchsspuren gespeicherten Erinnerungen mit neuen Codes ueberschrieben.
Damast mit seinen weiss in weiss eingwobenen Mustern ist in Europa als Bett- und Tischwaesche weit verbreitet. Urspruenglich entwickelt wurde diese Webtechnik jedoch in Ostasien und gelangte im Mittelalter ueber die Seidenstrasse nach Europa. Dort wurde im 18. Jahrhundert der Lochkartenwebstuhl entwickelt, welcher die Grundlagen fuer digitale Programmierung schuf. Denn die eingewobenen Muster sind die ersten digitalen Bilder. Das Wort Damast zeugt von einer der vielen Zwischenstationen dieses globalen Kulturtransfers, es bedeutet so viel wie: aus der Syrischen Stadt Damaskus.
Wenn Jun Azumatei europaesche Damastbettwaesche zu Kunstwerken transformiert zurueck nach Japan traegt, schliesst er einen Kreis in einem grossen weltumspannenden Muster.


During a residency in Switzerland the Japanese artist Jun Azumatei discovered a material, which he is integrating in his work since then; damask bedclothes he finds in second hand shops. He is using it as canvas overwriting the woven structure with thin layers of painting or drawing.
Damask bedclothes with white in white woven patterns are wide spread in the European context, not so in Japan.
But the technique of weaving damask originates in East Asia and came to Europe by the Silk Route in Medieval Age. The development of the punchcard loom in 18th century in France represents a starting point in the development of digital programming. The woven patterns are the first digital images and the term damask refers to one of the stopovers in this global cultural transfer, Damascus in Syria.
Taking European damask sheets transformed into artwork back to Japan Jun Azumatei is closing one circle in a huge worldwide pattern of cultural exchanges.


5 | GO

Bollag, Projektraum, Basel

24 Nov - 2 Dec 2011
Christiane Rekade

Artists; Jun Azumatei, Remo Hobi, Hildegard Spielhofer, Tina Z`Rotz

An essential element in traditional Japanese houses is the Tokonoma. This is a small ground-level wall niche, into which a composition consisting of an inscribed scroll or a picture scroll and an Ikebana, a flower arrangement, is placed. Unlike our house decorations, which are often situated in the same spot for years, the Tokonama is often set somewhere else. The Tokonama might reflect the current season, it might represent the thrill of anticipation of a important coming event or (as someone once explained to me) express the house owner's mood. "We value a scroll above all for the way it blends with the walls of the alcove, and thus we consider the mounting quite as important as the calligraphy or painting." This is how Japanese writer Tanizaki Jun`ichiro describes the care and attention with which the Tokonama is being tended and arranged. (Lob des Schattens, 1933)

The Tokonama is essentially a small private exhibition, curated by the man or the lady of the house for themselves or for their guests, and which they re-arrange again and again. Similarly the exhibit 5 I Go: Based on what they experienced during their shared exhibition in Tokyo in the summer 2011, Jun Azumatei and Hildegard Spielhofer decided to show their works in Switzerland also, and they invited two artists, who they are friends with, to join them. Together the artists are installing their works of art in the Projektraum Bollag. The presentation is being complemented by a series of films and a ?Diner Priv?“. The four artists present a versatile and ever-changing arrangement: The digit "5" in the title, meaning "GO" in Japanese, integrates the visitor as a fifth guest into the exhibit.

Jun Azumatei examines in his paintings and photographs surfaces and their perception. He investigates how we capture images or experiences, how we remember. So Azumatei for example displays a pillow case spanned over a stretcher frame. Having become worn out and thin by usage the pillow case turns into an almost transparent surface, through which the stretcher frames are shimmering. Azumatei now trickles drops of poppy-seed oil onto this surface. At the points where the poppy oil dropped on the fabric it turns darker, a new structure emerges.
"Sad but true" (2011), so the title of this work, is an attempt to portray fading memories and the search after the vanishing traces of a (strange) opposite. The artist carries the pointillistic structure of the poppy oil drops forward to a wall, thereby using golden thumbtacks. A wall picture emerges next to the canvas, a counterpiece, or: the positive image facing the negative.

Remo Hobi usually develops his work directly in the room, forming it out of the architecture. Stark forms like the line, the filled or left blank surface, which he piles up and arranges on various levels on top of and next to each other, are the bases of his wall paintings or wall drawings. For instance in Tbilisi he created a dense band of black lines tracing an otherwise rather inconspicuous edge in an exhibition room and through this gave the room a sculptural effect.
With his simple, very precise interventions into existing architectural structures Hobi succeeds in shifting our perception and in uncovering the overlooked peculiarities and distinct features of rooms.

Hildegard Spielhofer in her pieces of art and her installations often combines (scientific) inquiries, own experiences and associations to form a complex net. So she creates for example an edition of offset prints, in which she refers to the record Snowflakes are Dancing (1974) by Japanese musician and pioneer of electronic music Isao Taomita, who converted Claude Debussy's piano pieces utilizing a synthesizer. The version's colours are intensified and altered continually with every edition.
In two other objects of exposition Hildegard Spielhofer transforms found materials or items by performing minimal intrusions into formally reduced, poetical objects: Into a sleeve of a liquid manure tube she found she inserts a neon and combines it with an unknown Japanese poet's Haiku. And for an installation made of cherry, fig and olive tree pieces she carefully threads wooden rings onto nylon thread and hangs them from the ceiling. A protective and at the same time transparent wall is formed.

Tina Z`Rotz`s installations and video works are often absurd-poetic implementations or enactments of reality. Dealing with volume, colour and material are at the heart of her sculptural works. The objects are usually made by hand or by using traditional handicraft techniques ? like for example traditionally chip-carved logs of wood or a branch made of sawdust that Z'Rotz combined with sprayed colour fields transforming them into intriguing ensembles. In the wall sculpture "Hagender Fluss" ("hanging river") she concentrated on the clash between static sculpture and agitated reality. The shown river does not simply flow top down, but the movement regenerates itself in endless loops. Subsequently while referring to tubular, intestinal shaped forms, Z'Rotz creates the model of a three-dimensional waterfall.

Normally, the Tokonama is also the place in the house where the tea ceremony takes place. Thereby the most important guest traditionally sits with his/her back to the Tokonama. The hosts do not wish to create the impression that they are trying to force the view of their house ornaments upon the guests.
Likewise the four artist's exhibition is by no means obtrusive. The displayed works speak in a reduced, poetic but nevertheless precise language and show a very personal view of the world. It is an encounter, a minute array of diverse approaches and thoughts in a room, to which also the visitor feels invited to attend and participate - being the fifth guest.


Thresholds [between Worlds]

Atelierhaus Arlesheim, Switzerland
Linda Cassens Stoian, M.A., Critical Spatial Artist and Theoretician
Basel, May 2010

In the unusually harsh winter of 2009/10 during an artist residency in Basel, Switzerland, Jun Azumatei's began his latest series of paintings 'Cherry Blossoms'. The winter's seemingly never-ending stretch of sub-zero temperatures often made it difficult for Azumatei to wander outdoors taking photographs, his usual routine. Therefore he decided to tackle a task which he had been avoiding: sorting the images stored on his computer. Glancing through the random folders, he was suddenly captivated by some images of cherry blossoms he had taken the previous year in Japan.

Adopting the subject as his next motif, Azumatei decided to continue photographing cherry blossoms in Switzerland and use these new images as well as some of those he had taken in Japan as the basis of a new painting series. When Azumatei was able to go outdoors again he was surprised - and inconvenienced - to discover that cherry blossoms are not only a different color in Switzerland, but also much smaller. This dilemma, however, led to an innovation in his artistic method. Previously Azumatei himself had taken all the photographic images applied as the basis of his paintings. 1 Now he decided to ask a friend in Japan to take images for him and send them via email. In this way Azumatei has extended his desire to work with images that are charged with personal meaning and at the same time belong to everyone, as with his images of the sky. Now from the beginning these images are not the result of a personal 'I' or 'my' but rather the common 'we' or 'our'.

Indeed such poignantly familiar content has to be treated carefully in order to be able to trigger personal memory without being simply kitsch. Azumatei's approach and technique succeeds through his sensitivity for delicately balancing the figurative and the abstract. His installation of paintings floating on top of slender poles underscores the gap between these two worlds. As viewers we find ourselves on the brink of a number of other thresholds: the longing in winter for spring; looking down on the balanced plates in order to see up into the trees; remembering the fruit tree blossoms of our own cultures in relating to the immediate presence of another culture; and also lingering in the paradox of a painting method - with its historical longevity and grueling handwork - based in the instantaneous perishability and mechanical ease of contemporary digital images.

1 His painting method entails fixating a photograph to a piece of wood and then applying layers of paint on top of the photo. Without any traces of brushstrokes, the technique is applied in such a way that areas of the photo’s original content and colors are intensified and made more concrete, while other areas are painted over and thereby altered, either being made more abstract or changed altogether. As well, sanding the layers down in between painting achieves a polished result which is enhanced through varnishing in the end. Azumatei’s has developed this procedure over a number of years and most recently used it with a sky and cityscape motif.



The Device to View the World
Natsumi Araki (curator, Mori Art Museum)

Translated by Taeko Nanpei

The tranquil space created by Jun Azumatei was also pervaded with a sense of strong force. Sand was evenly laid inside a huge, shallow, T-shaped box, and his nine circular paintings were embedded within the sand. The randomly arranged circular paintings stood out due to the use of spotlights, creating a carefree rhythm. He also exhibited two other identically shaped paintings on the wall so that they could harmonize with the installation on the floor. In each painting, white figures emerged from within the base color of sky blue, green or beige.

Azumatei used to create paintings that possessed a photo-like gloss, using a method in which he applied layers of paint on a photo that he took himself, showing a scene such as a skyscape; he would then varnish and polish the surface with a file. This revealed a world of counteractions between the figurative and the abstract, and also between the mediums of photography and painting. In these paintings, he fixated on the “something” that resurfaced from his past experiences that had been deposited in his memory. Through the series of procedures he undertook, a unique smooth texture was manifested without any traces of brushstrokes, which also helped create more distance from the medium of painting. Nonetheless, Azumatei’s works were characterized by the fact that they unquestionably contained the element of “painting,” which was, in a way, classical in its very nature. His attempt to step out from such expressions was shown in his series Float/Circle (2006), in which he removed the framework of painting by randomly arranging small circular paintings (each eighteen centimeters in diameter) on walls. The circular shapes generated movement through their release from being tied to notions of “top” and “bottom.” In this way, he expanded the possibilities of installation that could be derived from painting. That is to say, he shifted his perspective from a focus on his experimental production processes that allowed the creation of a single painting, to one in which he could construct a space using multiple works.

However, his early works in the Float/Circle series were at the initial experimental stage. In this exhibition, he achieved his presentation of a creative landscape that was both innovative and invigorating, with a composition that daringly arranged large-scale circular paintings, each 180 centimeters in diameter (ten times larger than the earlier works in the series). His paintings were no longer just hung on walls, but also embedded in sands of the earth. This installation was able to be viewed from any angle, as a result of Azumatei’s aim to have viewers enjoy his work without limiting any directions or its frontal position. Thus, this work was released from all the restrictions involved in painting, including the form, the angle, and the exhibition method. He said that even the basic material for the work was not always a photo as it was in the past. This meant that his typical theme of a “photo,” which strongly characterized his previous works, was no longer his primary concern.

The images in Azumatei’s “horizon” paintings remind us more of water than the sky. In actuality, when one views this type of work in a squatting position, the light reflected on the smooth surface shines as if it were a pond or a puddle. On the other hand, one could say that each of his “sky” paintings is turned into a “water mirror” that reflects the sky. This type of work contains a passive element in that the image is similar to a transparent pool of water that manifests its existence through reflecting the colors on its surface. Despite the fact that these two types of paintings are quite large in scale, each one hardly claims its individuality as a “painting.” Rather, as a whole, they attract the eyes of viewers as “landscapes” that can be associated with nature.

Azumatei’s installation reminds us of a Japanese garden, in that along with the image conveyed from the sand, it allows us to recall nature even though it is an artificial object. From ancient times, a garden in Japan has functioned as a device to allow people to imagine a vast ocean or mountains, via the exquisite arrangement of water, stones, sand, and plants. The idea of a Japanese “dry landscape garden,” which derived from Zen Buddhism in the Kamakura (1192-1333) and Muromachi (1333-1573) periods, would further deepen the symbolic nature of a garden through the use of white sand instead of actual water to express a pond or ocean. It is the eyes of our inner souls that try to see nature and gaze into the universe via a landscape made out of plain stones and sand. Azumatei aimed to reveal what exists beyond his paintings through having viewers freely view his installation that was created in the image of a garden.

Azumatei wrote the following in his statement for this exhibition:

I remember that the first English textbook I was given when I entered my junior high school began with the Swahili greetings “Jambo!” and “Habari!” When I turned the page to Lesson One, I saw an unfamiliar map-like diagram that occupied the upper part of that page, but I could not immediately understand what it was. On closer look, I realized it was a reversed world map. My reason for saying that it was reversed is because the world map I had known up to that time had the North Pole at the top, the South Pole at the bottom, Japan in the central area, the Eurasian continent on the left side, the American continents on the right, and Australia slightly up in the center…At the time, I felt that the reversed map contained enigmatic and rich possibilities. I thought that we might have failed to see essential matters while living in a world that determines all directions based on gravitation. I also thought that there must be visions that only the people who have gone to the outer space know, and that there might be a world that only bats could see.

Azumatei seeks visions that we have overlooked through doubting the points of view that we have become accustomed to in our daily lives. As if to show viewers the “reversed world map,” he stirs our fixated views and ideas so that we can look at the world with a more open mind. That is why his works may at times convey a sense of incongruity, and thus why viewers may feel uncomfortable. However, this is a subject that every one of us should face in order to understand others, as well as to discover our own hidden potentials. Azumatei’s attempt to sublimate the medium of painting so that it can act as a device for us to philosophize on our own lives will no doubt continue to open up new landscapes for us to view.





これまで東亭順は、自ら撮影した空などの写真に幾層も絵具で彩色し、ニスを塗ってヤスリで研磨するという方法で、写真のような光沢をもつ絵画を制作してきた。それは具象と抽象、写真と絵画のせめぎあう世界である。記録が記憶の中に沈殿し、再び浮かびあがってきた「何か」を、東亭は画面に定着させてきた。作業の工程を重ねることによって、筆跡を残さず、絵画の直裁さからは距離をもつ、つるつるした独特の物質感が表出する。それでもなお、どこか古典的でれっきとした「絵画」感をもつところが、東亭の作品の特徴でもあった。そこから一歩脱する試みとして《Float / circle》(2006年)のシリーズでは、直径18cmの小円形の絵画を複数壁に散らし、絵画というフレームを外してみせた。天地を決めない円形のもつ自由さが動きを生んだ。一枚の絵にこめてきた実験的な制作過程の視点を、複数による構成へと移し、絵画から派生したインスタレーションへの可能性を広げた。

しかしながら《Float / circle》は、まだ初期的な実験だったといえよう。今回の展示では、直径を10倍の180cmへと変えた大型の円を大胆に配した構成で、斬新かつ清々しい風景の創造に成功した。絵画はもはや壁から離れ、地の砂に埋まる。天地と左右、正面を限定せずに見方を鑑賞者に委ねたいと考える東亭の意図に従って、展示はどこからでも見ることが可能だ。形、方向、展示方法全てが絵画の決まりごとから解放されている。基準となる素材は、写真の場合とそうでない場合があるという。東亭の作品の大きな特徴であった「写真」というテーマすら、こだわりの対象とはなっていない。







Jun AZUMATEI : Transformed shapes of the sky
Natsumi ARAKI (curator, Mori Art Museum)

Translated by Taeko Nanpei

Jun Azumatei paints acrylic colors on a photograph print that he has taken of the sky, puts varnish on it, then files and polishes the surface of the work, which is the process to bring his work to its completion. The sky,burnished to a smooth plane through this process, is far different from what the artist had originally seen, and now ambiguously drifting in images of variable memories and oblivion.He sometimes turns the photographs upside down and paints additional elements, which distorts the reality and the recollection of the original images further. It can be said that these vague images have reached the realm of the abstract, but nevertheless, the romantic, familiar and beautiful "sky" motif does in fact continue to exist and makes his work look ,as it were , like "classical painting" .

In this show at gallery Dojunkai, Azumatei tries to display experimental ideas different from his previous typical works. Upon entering the exhibition space, your attention is directed to "Mirage", an installation work that appears to emerge from the floor. An elliptical painting of the sky is partially buried in the center of a mound of sand. Its burnished surface appears to emit light and the image of the painting looks like a scenery reflected on the surface of a lake, or seems to reflect an image of the inner depths of the Earth. As if in concert with this work, on the surrounding walls is displayed a rhythmically-placed series of seven round pieces of works,each 18cm in diameter, named "Float/circle". The circular sky forms,released from the setting rule of top and bottom in a rectangular painting frame, are freely scattered without being constrained by the motif. In fact, the positioning of the works on the wall can be extremely flexible , the angles varying with mood. As the title indicates, each piece can freely float and revolve, changing as independently moving works.

To me, it appears that Azumatei in this exhibition wants to dare to break with the rules of motif and form of the painting that had become so characteristic of his work. The feeling of the vitality of life and nature are clearly expressed here. The breath of the Earth alluded in the sky and the moisture of a transformative organism betray the reassuring comfort found in the reworked paintings. Within the earnestly-prepared sand of the rock garden aspect of "Mirage", there is both a refined appearance and the sinister aspect of a crater or an ant hill. First of all ,this object protruding from the ground holds a powerful attraction to the viewers' physical senses. With a different quality from his previous painterly themes such as reality and illusion, pursuit of memories and landscape created by eliminating the touch of the surface, this approach appeals more directly to the senses. It now functions as a stimulating device for the five senses of the viewer confronting it.

The artist's concern about "device" can be seen in another three-dimensional work with the same name as the floor-based work, but constructed of thin cloth and a light. It is a room-shaped installation in which a light is situated within numerous layers of thin white and yellow cloth, the cloth softly illuminated by the light. One feels undeniably a lack of completion regarding the placement and form of the structure, but it can be recognized as an attempt at "a kind of stage setting", as stated by the artist.A rhythm develops from the relationship of the works with each other, an almost physical sensation on the part of the viewer lead by the works. The creation of a dynamism of the space can be described as one of the key themes of this exhibition. If it's not too much to ask, I would hope that the scene with the passersby on the avenue of Omotesando facing the gallery building will actually be drawn into the exhibition through the gallery window for a more involved experience of this show.

The motif of the sky which has become Azumatei's trademark is both his strength and his weakness. The strong lyricism that remains after all the attempts to eliminate it, contributes excessively to the sense of "beautiful painting". Even if the attempt to free himself of this has not completely succeeded in this exhibition, there is no doubt that it represents an important development towards the future for this artist. I look forward to seeing what adventures and evolutions are in store for Azumatei's skies.



東亭順 - 変容する空の形








Touch me if you can…
“Gallery Review,” Bijutsu Techo Monthly Art Magazine (January Edition, 2006, p. 213)
Yuichiro Takashima, Curator, Setagaya Art Museum

Translated by Taeko Nanpei

In recent years, Jun Azumatei has developed his works toward conveying a new point of view. He has consistently utilized a method of “manipulating” the optical traces of a photo with a paintbrush to create a mirage-like expression through the application of varnish over the existing objects. His artistic perspective has unmistakably deepened as a result of his incorporating the method of painting utterly imaginary objects, as well as through creating works by inverting the scene found in a photo and then painting over it.

At a glance, Azumatei’s works seem as if they were created based on a distinct two-layer structure. This structure is not only found in his theme of “the relationship between architecture (the foreground) and clouds (the background),” but also in the binary, opposing materials used in “painting and photography.” But in his work, the brushstrokes that should most strongly reflect his manipulative actions merely erase the details of the buildings in the photo; thus, they result in disturbing our imagination. The dimly shining surface that has been varnished and polished is completely devoid of the texture of paint; the artist leaves only the visual traces of brushstrokes. Such a suspended state of affairs organically develops within his work.

Azumatei’s manipulative actions are based on his intent to assimilate the reality of photography with the (internal) truth of memories, in a way in which they can conform to his own memories. While memories tend to become more indistinct with the passage of time, photos can leave behind excessive information. Thus, in Azumatei’s case, the truth rests in the ambiguous scenes that have been reduced into the color-fields of his works. In this process, he varnishes over the buildings in the photo with a dusky-gray color, making it appear as if they are covered in mist. And as his intention is reflected in the surface of his work, the sea of clouds in the background that possesses a concrete form gradually overtakes the color-field in the foreground and ultimately engulfs it. Therefore, our ordinary recognition of the foreground and background relationship becomes reversed.

Furthermore, in recent years, Azumatei has painted nonexistent scenes of natural objects (mainly trees and mountains) on photos that are incorporated upside down in his works. It might sound like an exaggeration, but his works somehow remind us of typical scenes found in nature. They reveal memories of nature that have remained in our minds and that are seen as being so natural to the extent that they become unnatural; or else they reveal the ambiguous memories we possess toward nature. The mischievous manipulations he makes in his works allow us to realize how impure and untrustworthy our own memories are. However, the most essential element in his work is the mental image that is manifested within our own minds; thus, his aim does not lie in pointing out the differences between a mental image and reality. In the process of conceiving mental images, we are provoked into grasping the truth that can be glimpsed from his work, though those mental images are often contrary to the artist’s intention. Through his manipulative actions that are aimed at carefully eliminating realities, Azumatei’s works successfully elucidate the truths that paintings are capable of encompassing.


美術出版社『美術手帖』2006年1月号 P213





さらに、東亭は近年、天地を逆にした写真に、ありもしない風景 ー 主に木や山といった自然物 ー を加筆する。だが、それらはどこか典型的な自然を想起させるとは言い過ぎだろうか。我々の記憶に留まる、不自然なまでの自然すぎる自然。自然に対する曖昧な記憶。彼の悪戯によって、自らの記憶がいかに不純かつ不実なものか我々は思い知らされる。ただ、何より重要なのは、ここに立ち現れる心象そのものであり、それと現実の差異ではない。その過程で我々は垣間見える真実を掴もうと奮い、その結果は思惑と相反するのが常なのだから。彼の作品は、絵画が内包しうるそうした真実を、事実を丁寧に消し去っていく所為によって見事に明示していた。



Touch me if you can... 展
上沢かおり (art cocoon/director)





**ソウルコンテナ…art cocoon 発行のメールマガジン


Bunkamura Art Show 2005 人工楽園



美術出版社『美術手帖』2004年9月号 P169 - 173 「アクリリックスワールド23」











Beyond the Clouds: The Works of Jun Azumatei
Motoaki Hori, Chief Curator, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery

Translated by Taeko Nanpei

A series of Jun Azumatei's works that contains depictions of clouds reminded me of Seiki Kuroda's series of six paintings, Clouds (1913). The Clouds series that is in the collection of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, consists solely of clouds that float in the sky. Kuroda portrayed distinct formal features of clouds that can be seen in cumulus, cirrus, altocumulus, and cirrostratus clouds. Each work was done on a board twenty-six centimeters in height and thirty-four centimeters in width. Though he sketched all of them outdoors, there probably were some differences in the time and days that they were created; in one work, for example, the clouds are tinged with red by the setting sun. Kuroda is called the father of modern Japanese Western-style painting, and is known to have made great efforts to transplant orthodox themes and forms from Western paintings to Japan. It is interesting in that he also aspired to visually record the ever-changing states of nature through oil-painting techniques. This can be easily surmised from viewing Clouds, as well as from another series of six works he created a year later entitled Sakurajima Erupting (1914, Kagoshima City Museum of Art), in which he depicted the varying eruptive states of the Sakurajima Volcano.

In comparison to Kuroda's works that convey an impression of looking at an illustrated book of clouds, the clouds that Azumatei depicts all lightly drape across the sky with little change in form. If we were to only focus on the variety of cloud types, it would be quite obvious that the clouds in Kuroda's series are much richer in their changes than in Azumatei's works. In his production process, Azumatei utilizes photos and digital images of the sky and clouds. Even though he uses such technologies, one would be at a loss if asked the question, “Which of the two artists create the more realistic works?” In actuality, Kuroda undoubtedly displays a stronger reproductive expression via the medium of oil painting, while also vividly depicting the subjects in his works.

In his production method, Azumatei takes the photo or digital image that he has captured and repeats a process of applying layers of paint and then polishing the surface, as if he were infiltrating paint into the surface. This allows the painting to possess a unique surface texture that carries a sense of luster. One of the major elements in Azumatei's works is the series of blurs that is accidentally created on the plane through his application of layers of paint. As he polishes the work over time, the blurs change their expressions from day to day, never manifesting the same forms. During this process, Azumatei superimposes the transforming work with the actual kaleidoscopic atmosphere. From his own memories and from the changing appearance of the sky, he perceives the same sense of breathing, sense of warmth, and pulsations as human beings; he is able to harmonize those sensations and sublimate them into a single work. That is why despite his use of photos, Azumatei's works take on similar expressions as abstract paintings, instead of examples of Photorealism.

Another element I would like to point out is the orientation or the angle of his vision in creating his works. This again can easily be understood by comparing Azumatei's works with Kuroda's. Differing from Kuroda's Clouds series that was painted from an upward angle, most of Azumatei's works were created with a horizontal orientation. Due to this angle, houses and streets often appear in his works. Generally speaking, the reasons why the sky looks blue and sunsets look red can be explained by differences in the wavelength distribution of sunlight and the thickness of the atmospheric layers. A horizontal orientation receives a stronger influence from a thicker atmospheric layer than from an upward visual angle. Therefore, in Azumatei's works, the horizontal orientation has a great effect in conveying the sense of an overcast sky. Before turning to his series of clouds, Azumatei used to focus on portraying the human body. The underlying reason for his drastic shift to producing “landscape paintings” was that at the time he lived in London, he came to realize the differences in the climate between England and Japan, such as through actually feeling the differences in humidity. As has already become evident, Azumatei's interest does not lie in the formal features of clouds. He ventures to focus on clouds that hang low as they drift across the sky, instead of clouds that float about in the vast sky. What can be evidently perceived from his works is the sense of aimlessly wandering clouds, rather than a sense of freely floating clouds. However, that sense of aimless, wandering clouds undeniably reflects our present-day situations. It might sound paradoxical, but in Azumatei's works, there is definitely ‘something’ that exists and dwells beyond the draping clouds. The meaning of creating paintings to Jun Azumatei lies in strictly revealing his desire to formalize and to actually convey that uncertain ‘something.’



雲の彼方に 東亭順の作品
堀 元彰(東京オペラシティアートギャラリー・チーフキュレーター)







press release

Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery

In Azumatei's work, photographs and digitally recorded images of sky and clouds form a base upon which several permeating layers of paint are applied and burnished to retain a “blurred” surface effect.
In the recollections and traces of the sky's appearance, which never repeats the same shape as it changes day by day, A senses the breath, warmth, and pulsating heartbeat of a human being, and by blending these impressions together sublimates them into the art work.
For some years now it has not been unusual to see a painting based on a photographic image, but Azumatei's unique sensitivity towards subtle change and transformation can be felt through the sensuous process that effaces the malaise of the photo taken and tries through the accumulation of multiple layering of permeating paint to restore the emotionally moving instant when the shutter was released.


東京オペラシティアートギャラリー Project N17 プレスリリース 作家紹介文より




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