Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Beijing) and 798 art zone pleased to announce its 2nd installment of Neo-Mōrōism. Inviting Pi Daojian, an eminent scholar and critic of Chinese ink painting, to server as a curator, the exhibition gathers 21 artists from Japan, China and Taiwan. Participating artists are Cai Guangbin, Ding Beili, Hang Chunhui, Ling Dongpeng, Lin Yusi, Liu Meiyu, Shao Wenhuan, Shen Qin, SHIMURAbros, Tai Xiangzhou, Tomohito Ishii, Wang Shuye, Wen Fengyi, Wu Qiang, Xu Bing, Ye Jianqing, Yoshito Takahashi, Zeng Jianyong, Zhang Quan, Zhang Tianjun and Zhu Jianzhong. This exhibition is co-organized by 798 Art District. The 798 Art Factory space will be used as the second venue and the exhibition will showcase paintings photography, video artwork and installation.

The term mōrō (vague and hazy) entered the discourse of painting roughly one hundred years ago. Japanese painters practicing Nihonga (or Japanese-style painting) under the direction of Okakura Tenshin began to seek for innovative stylistic means to modernize Japanese paintings that resonated with their contemporary needs. Finding inspiration from western oil painting these artists eliminated the descriptive lines, which were the main component and most intrinsic expressive tool of Nihonga. Through subtle gradation of color, shade and misty execution of all form covering the entire picture, their new techniques depicted climatic conditions and nuances of light that were difficult to portray through traditional methods. Although critics condemned these works to be too Western-influenced and bestowed the pejorative name mōrō-tai, which ironically stuck as the styles certified term, the artists’ effort to integrate different methods and aesthetics in search for a new visual expression is considered today as an important art historical turning point.

Depicting the changes in light and in the air was not unique to Europe and Japan, but it was also widely practiced in North America exemplified by American Tonalism which flourished around the same period as mōrō-tai. We should also direct our attention to the long tradition of pictorial expressions in East Asia that originate from Shan shui (or Chinese landscape painting) of the Song and Yuan dynasties.
Neo-Mōrōism aims to look at the way in which different cultures with unique histories and practices formed complex interactions through painting, so that contemporary pictorial expression may be reinterpreted from a global perspective.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP will publish an exhibition catalogue that features all participating artists and new essays written by Pi Daojian and Wei Xiangqi, curator of National Art Museum of China. In addition, the gallery will host a symposium on October 11th at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Panelists are Pi Daojian, Wang Huangsheng, Zhang Zhiyang, Wu Hongliang, Wei Xiangqi, Wan Yanling,and Tabata Yukihito. The opening reception will be held from 15:00 on October 12th.

Wu Qiang

SHIMURAbros is a sister-brother duo comprising Yuka Shimura, who was born in 1976 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Tama Art University and a master’s degree from University of the Arts London: Central St Martins, and her brother Kentaro, who was born in 1979 and holds a degree in Imaging Art from Tokyo Polytechnic University. After receiving an Excellence Award in the Art Division of the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival, hosted by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, the pair went onto have their works shown at Festival de Cannes and the Berlinale Festival and exhibited by art galleries in Japan and overseas. In recent years the works of SHIMURAbros have been exhibited at the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions, and the duo has taken part in the residence program at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA). In 2017, ArtReview Asia magazine named SHIMURAbros as a “future great”. SHIMURAbros relocated to Berlin in 2014 on a research grant from the Pola Art Foundation, where they are currently resident as researchers at the studio of Olafur Eliasson. Recently, the duo was chosen to create the thirtieth commission work for the Aichi Arts Center and the Aichi Prefectural Art Museum, which resulted in Butterfly Upon a Wheel (2022), a series of video works that considers the ongoing issue of refugees, starting with Sugihara Chiune, the diplomat who famously issued ‘visas for life’ during WWII.

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Wang Shuye

Wang Shuye was born in China’s Heilongjiang province in 1963, and graduated from Beijing’s Central Academy of Craft Art (now renamed the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University) in 1989. That same year, his graduation work won the Gold National Award for Excellence, the highest honor awarded by the Ministry for Trade, Education and Industry. In 1990, Wang came to Japan and spent the next ten years devoting himself exclusively to the spiritual pursuit of art, exhibiting no work until his 2001 solo show in Kamakura. Since then he has been showing his paintings mainly in Tokyo and Kamakura, in addition to holding a retrospective exhibition at the Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art in 2009 entitled The Affirmative Vision – The World of Wang Shuye. Wang took a leading role in organizing Neo-Moroism exhibition held at Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Beijing) in 2013 by contribuiting a theoritical essay for the catalogue. Today, Wang continues to live and work in Kamakura, producing paintings that are informed by subtle yet tenacious executation and persistent spirit of inquiry.
Wang’s paintings, often covered by a mass of countless brushstrokes, use this layered technique to depict profound scenes of tranquil beauty. These visual spaces represent a world that exists prior to becoming a subject of our awareness. Standing in front of these large canvases, the viewer is freed from the constraints of the present moment and discovers the existence of another, more mercurial space and time. Although he used to work mainly with Chinese ink and pencil, Wang began using oil paint in 2007 in order to explore new directions in his artistic practice. By giving up his reliance on outlines and contours, Wang has enabled his vision to draw ever closer to his chosen subjects – so much so that he seems to approach the very essence of their materiality.

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Ye Jian Qing

Ye Jianqing was born in in 1972 in Zhejiang, China. Ye is a doctoral graduate of and current professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA).

Ye is best known for his works which melds the painting tradition of the Song period with contemporary modes of visual perception: demonstrating a ‘holistic perception’ and a ‘distanced’ way of observing nature. His works often depict a sort of a natural utopia permeated with ‘vital’ energy.

Ye’s works have been shown and collected at notable public institutions worldwide including the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) and Los Angeles County Art Museum (LACAM). He is a former recipient of the Okamatsu Scholarship & Prize.

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Tomohito Ishii

Tomohito Ishii, born in 1981, is an artist who obtained his M.A. from the Painting Course, Graduate School of Art and Design, Musashino Art University. He creates artworks that problematize visual perception as an information reception device by painting images sourced from his own photographs or existing imagery. In recent years, he has been creating paintings using oil and UV printing techniques, featuring a double image with an inverted depiction of potted plants as motifs. Through this approach, he aims to transform the symbolic recognition of human beings inseparable from urban spaces. In addition to his artistic practice, he also engages in curation activities, such as αM+ vol. 2: My Hole - Hole in Art: Subterraneans and Mirrorless Mirror.

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