Eugene Studio, founded by Eugene Kangawa, now in his early thirties, is having its first museum solo exhibition at MOT. It is a combination of 2D works of various dimensions and mediums and relatively large-scale installations. While the installations are somewhat straightforward, the mixed-media paintings switch flexibly between paper, canvas, and brass with a sense of calmness and elegance. At first glance, some works might seem rather decorative, whether it’s a gradation of turquoise dye, a textured white painting, or a polytych of oil on brass reminiscent of a gold-foil folding screen. The subtlety in the choice of materials and the delicate use of technique rise to the foreground as we get closer. Zooming in a little bit more, the audience will reach a level of care for the present world, for intellect and sensibility, as well as the divinity dwelled underneath. Death and life as abstract yet warm forms are frequent subjects in Eugene Studio’s work. They are handled lightly but reverently, without a hint of bitterness or sarcasm. The whole exhibition space is thus made into a chamber for introspection via the journey of mediating about one’s relationship with the world.
Drawing #Shine (in the forest in spring) (triptych, center), 2021
Shigeko Kubota’s massive retrospective travelled from her hometown Niigata to Osaka then finally Tokyo in the span of a year in 2021. While this coincides with the trend in the Japanese art museum community to begin taking into consideration the issue of gender equality in exhibition planning, it is also delightful to see this pioneer of video art return to the shores of her home country of Japan after a life-time stay in the United States. The exhibition is organized chronologically, providing abundant personal materials such as letters and photos to portrait the artist as a real person, who encounters, experiments, excites, grieves. She is herself, curious and imaginative, as well as the loving daughter of her father, a friend and comrade of her peer avant-garde artists, an admirer of Duchamp, and Nam June Paik’s great love… Unlike some of her contemporaries, she never pulled away from emotions, feelings, or nature while jumping at the chance of using television/video technique as an artistic medium. The body of Kubota’s work is multifaceted, just like the multi-channel installations Korean Grave (1993) and Niagara Falls (1985/2021), and as is her own life. The curation of the show is honest and loyal to all these facets, including the dissonances and contestations, a method that posits itself as different from MOT’s last retrospective exhibition which looked at the art of Dumb Type.
Korean Grave, Shigeko Kubota, 1993
Niagara Falls, Shigeko Kubota, 1985/2021