Michiko Nakatani : Drawings in the drawer
"Reach out" 2021 For the Museum on Echigo-Tsumari (MonET)

  • 中谷ミチコ: 引き出しの中のドローイング

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Michiko Nakatani : Drawings in the drawer

2021, Aug. 6(Fri.) – Sep. 5(Sun.)

Art Front Gallery is delighted to announce its upcoming exhibition of drawings by Michiko Nakatani.
Date 2021, Aug. 6(Fri.) – Sep. 5(Sun.)
Hours Wed. - Fri. 12:00 - 19:00 / Sat. Sun. 11:00 - 17:00 *shortening in opening hours
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Aug. 11(Wed.) -15(Sun.)
artist at the gallery Aug. 6(Fri.) 12: 00-13:30
Michiko Nakatani was born in Tokyo in 1981. A graduate of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Nakatani currently resides in Mie Prefecture where she has set up a studio. In recent years, Nakatani has increasingly participated in exhibitions and museum shows, such as the VOCA Exhibition in 2018 (Ueno Mori Art Gallery, Tokyo), where she received the Encouragement Award, the “DOMANI – Tomorrow” exhibition in 2018 (National Art Center, Tokyo), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in 2018 (Niigata Prefecture) or her solo show at the Mie Prefectural Art Museum in 2019. In 2020, Nakatani installed her piece “The white tigers are watching”, a 9-meter wide sculpture, at the Toranomon Station of the Ginza subway line, earning her a lot of attention for the expressive power of her three-dimensional piece. Nakatani is one of the most sought-after contemporary artists, evident also in her being selected for the Takashimaya Art Award in January of this year, an award given to emerging artists based on their previous work and their future potential.

Nakatani’s sculptural artworks differ from usual relief works by inverting the roles of convex and concave parts. She creates works that challenge the ideas of absence and existence, with motifs that exist in the emptiness of the sunken reliefs. Her pieces – strange existences that are clearly there, yet also aren’t – create a complex sense of distance between object and audience. Nakatani began producing these ambiguous, intangible works after wondering if it was possible to create painting-like sculptures. The act of drawing – the source of all images – constitutes an indispensable part of Nakatani’s artistic process.

This exhibition at Art Front Gallery focuses on Nakatani’s drawings. In the past, Nakatani said that her drawings, made on thin paper, seem to her like a kind of sculpture. Indeed, for Nakatani her drawings as sculptures, too. She is constantly drawing, both as a daily exercise and as part of the production process of her three-dimensional works. She draws as if sculpturing on white paper, or in order to let images stream out from the back of her mind. We will present drawings made during the creation of sculptures collected by the newly reopened Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as drawings made on a daily basis during the Corona pandemic. While previously exhibited drawings of Nakatani’s were almost exclusively A4-sized, this exhibition at Art Front Gallery will also feature large-scale drawings reminiscent of her sculptural work. Relief works connected to the exhibited drawings as well as clay prototypes used to create her three-dimensional works will also be part of this exhibition.

We hope you will enjoy this exhibition that offers a glimpse into Michiko Nakatani’s creative source and discover the appeal and fascination of her work from new perspectives.

"Hidden" 2021 For the Museum on Echigo-Tsumari (MonET)

Stories between the worlds of truth and fantasy
Yumiko Tatematsu (Curator, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa)
We see a child, surrounded by green. The way the child curls their shoulders looks dejected, but the colors and their features seem soft and snug, their facial expression unclear. Is the child feeling safe? Is the child scared of something? Is the child secure for now but senses some future threat? The composition suggests deep, dark forest as much as a mother’s body pregnant with a child. The green spreads out from the center in continuous, dream-like rhythmical layers, reminding us of the natural life and the ancient memories residing within the body. The tentacle-like shapes stretching out towards the top may be branches of a tree in a forest, or perhaps algae floating in an ocean. There is the glow of the fire of life, its flame growing ever larger, flickering and fluttering like a sensory cell that captures life in all its phases as it transitions and adapts.
Each of Michiko Nakatani’s artworks is filled with such a multitude of differing perspectives. Her works seem like mechanisms ready to let us find new ways of looking at and understanding the world, depending on how it connects these perspectives. When one faces her work, fragmented memories and ideas are brought together and previously unconnected pieces begin to spin a new narrative.
This exhibition is mainly composed of drawings made by Nakatani while she hand-casted twelve reliefs collected by the Museum on Echigo-Tsumari (MonET), set to reopen in summer 2021. The motifs are based on daily sketches drawn by Nakatani during the Corona pandemic as a mental exercise rather than technical practice. Drawn without having to fulfill any requirements or expectations, Nakatani’s sketches represent the traces of a lonely fight with herself, akin to a marathon runner or an author writing a novel. The more ambiguous the lines and shapes of her drawings, the bigger the narratives that people will see.
The protagonists of these narratives are we ourselves as the storytellers. The narratives themselves continue to change, and they have no ending. But there is more in this space than the first-person me; there is also an other, a third-person: the “Mother Dog” who watches over the narrative. She is not an absolute other but rather a projection of the self onto the other. It is what Nakatani found when she thrust her hands into her own depths and spread them out in the dark. Protagonist and narrator become one and spin an ending without an end. The work begins to tell you about the changes you want to see in the world, and that the change is within in you. It tells about narratives that have never existed, that may nonetheless guide your loved ones forward, into the future.

"Voice from afar"2021, collection of Museum on Echigo-Tsumari