Masterpiece London 2019

2019 6/27(Thu) - 7/3(Wed)

VIP Preview Day: 26th June (wed), 11am-9pm
Venue: South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea,
London SW3 4LW, United Kingdom
Booth: A10


Yufuku is pleased to present “Nihonga Now”, a group exhibition of five Japanese painters who are spearheading a new movement within the ancient traditions of Nihonga Japanese painting, thereby taking the genre beyond the ghosts of the Heisei era and breaking the dawn of a new contemporary day and age.

Placing emphatic emphasis on freedom of expression, innovation and imagination through the use of traditional techniques, materials and new modes of abstraction not found within the classically figurative nature of Nihonga, these five painters break free from the stagnant market conventions and stereotypes placed on Japanese painters, and eschew cheap superficiality, Anime/Manga kitsch, and precedence on Western narratives in order to paint transcendent, evocative and ethereal paintings that depict the movements within both their state of mind and state of existence. Led by Takafumi Asakura, a young 40-year-old painter who is widely considered to be the most talented Nihonga artist of his generation, 4 of these artists had studied at Tama University of the Arts, where the teacher Matazo Kayama had influenced a generation of artists to paint on a large scale and through abstraction. These artists follow his teachings with reverence.

Yufuku Gallery stand at Masterpiece London 2019.

With precedence on craftsmanship, materials and beauty as paramount, Nihonga Now showcases the dawn of Japanese painters who are not afraid of the staid hierarchies of Japanese society and the contemporary art world in general. Instead, this group valiantly challenge contemporary Western art through paintings made through materials indigenous to Japan – hand-made paper, natural minerals and pigments such as grinded seashells, charcoal ink and lapis lazuli, and the abundant use of gold, silver and aluminium leaf, as compelling testament to days past, our lives today, and our dreams tomorrow.

From left: Céleste by Kentaro Sato, both forgotten III by Masanori Maeda, Thinking of Nightfall by Takafumi Asakura.

Japanese painters today are faced with a unique dilemma – innovate and internationalise, or else fall prey to the spectres of extinction. By emancipating themselves from the restrictive dichotomies of Western/Eastern aesthetics, these painters exemplify a new age of Nihonga unafraid of the past while ambitiously reaching for new vistas not yet seen within Japanese painting. Their aesthetic is a reminder of what has been lost in today’s art world, and embodies what the future holds: the importance of artistic integrity within execution, craftsmanship and material, long lost yet not forgotten within the overdrawn conceptualism of contemporary art. In other words, these five painters embody a Return to Innocence within the storied traditions of Japanese painting.

From left: both forgotten III by Masanori Maeda, Thinking of Nightfall by Takafumi Asakura.
From left: ephemera by Kiyo Hasegawa, Sound of Water by Takafumi Asakura.
Kentaro Sato’s painting Serenity was perhaps the most popular work at the fair.
adoration by Kiyo Hasegawa.
From left: Serenity by Kentaro Sato, Wisteria by Ayane Mikagi.
Stand filled with visitors.
Ami explaining the technique of Kentaro Sato’s painting.
Kumiko with clients enjoying Takafumi Asakura’s work painted on aluminum leaf.
Takeshi retelling the story behind Takafumi Asakura’s painting.
Akira explaining Kiyo Hasegawa’s painting. Hasegawa’s Yufuku debut was a sold-out success!
Wahei with clients enjoying Takafumi Asakura’s work filled with roses.
Yufuku owner Wahei being interviewed by TV media.
Team Yufuku (from left: Ami, Yoriko, Kumiko, Wahei, Takehsi, Akira)

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