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前田正憲 Masanori
Maeda
Masanori
Maeda

両忘 (2020) |Japanese pigments on aluminum leaf, mounted on canvas
H95.2 x W142 cm
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Masanori
Maeda
Profile
  • 1964 Born in Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan
  • 1991 Tokyo University of the Arts, BA / Lives and works in Ibaraki
  • 01 Exhibitions More
  • 02 Awards More
  • 03 Public Collections More

About
the Artist
About
the Artist

The use of black ink to express the seasons and the passing of time is one of traditional Japanese painting’s major characteristics, and in comparison to acrylic or oil-based painting materials, it is often said that traditional Japanese pigments and inks are not only complex, but are notoriously difficult to use effectively for abstraction. It is this complexity which gives the genre called Nihonga its captivating allure, and an emerging school of contemporary Japanese painters are bringing this centuries-old tradition, previously leaning heavily on figurative motifs, into the 21st century with bold colours and striking abstractions.
The prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts is universally acknowledged as the most difficult of art universities to be accepted to in Japan, with acceptance rates in the single digits and glittering alumni that essentially comprises the modern art history of Japan since the Meiji Period. It is from this institution that Nihonga painter Masanori Maeda (b. 1964 –) graduated as Head of the Class by receiving the Ataka Prize, which often propels artists on a well-oiled path to stardom. This was not the case for Maeda. With exceptional technique yet without a clear conception of what he wished to express through painting, Maeda soon drifted to obscurity. Yet in the past few years Maeda has reemerged with a focus on abstraction, a style of painting that he had always wished to paint, inspired by the simplicity and naturalism of the Mono-ha movement.
Maeda’s painting entitled “both forgotten / light” for TEFAF 2021 is inspired by the abstract pine trees of the legendary medieval Japanese painter Hasegawa Tohaku, his brushstrokes revealing hints of tension that leave behind a sparse emptiness that fills an ominous, looming presence of what lies beyond. To paint or not to paint what can and cannot be seen – it is this duality of Tohaku that Japanese painter Masanori Maeda endeavours to capture, while also being inspired by the simple forms and strokes of the Mono-ha movement of the 1980’s. “both forgotten / light” originally refers to the juxtaposition between life and death, pain and happiness, and other elements that, once forgotten, can lead one to another state of existence that transcends the 2-dimensional, to a realm of serenity and utter calm and “emptiness.” Yet what is different between this latest work and his previous “both forgotten” paintings is the re-introduction of the figurative within Maeda’s work, in particular an emphasis on natural landscapes and the rising sun. Indeed, the two-tone colour scheme, with a depth of complex colour within each brushstroke, represents the dark sea with overcast clouds at the break of dawn, the sun peering from the horizon representing a new day, a new hope, and a moment to reflect away from the troubles of the past. Maeda’s romantic idealism has been realised in full, representing thus an emergence of a new approach to Japanese painting for the 21st century.

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