Ninjin Art captures the new wave of Japanese art on camera
A painting of a woman by Neko
New Ninjin Art video bags the beauty and power of Tokyo Park's inaugural exhibition ahead of forthcoming new show in June.

Saitama, 21 May, 2023: Ninjin Art has released a new music-driven video entitled ‘Tokyo Colours: A New Wave of Colour and Beauty’ that captures the power and vibrancy of the new wave of Japanese art presented to the UK for the first time at the Tokyo Colours exhibition in London this past October. Staged at Spiral Galleries in Shoreditch and marking Tokyo Park’s first exhibition, the group show featured the work of five young Japanese painters, viz SaiakuNana, Ashiya Shiguma, Mayumi Konno, Neko and TYM344. Through a diverse range of styles and techniques, this quintet of quality provided a fresh approach to pop, or as curator and Tokyo Park founder Martim Barroso puts it, “a post-Superflat reaction to art”.

“Each of the painters clearly have their own vision and way of expressing it, from the frenetic energy and mixed media of SaiakuNana and the exquisitely executed brushwork of Mayumi Konno to the more dreamlike female imagery of Neko; the anime-inspired works of Ashiya Shiguma on glass and cardboard; and the bold black-and-white canvases of TYM344 complete with caster wheels to boot,” says Ninjin Art producer Ignatius Rake. “While visually very different from one and other, their works together created a unified whole exuding a palpable vortex of energy that I really wanted to capture.”

As such, ‘Tokyo Colours: A New Wave of Colour and Beauty’, with a runtime of 4 minutes 33 seconds, eschews the traditional documentary format, adopting instead a manner more akin to that of a music video. Devoid of commentary and instead powered on by the house music of Hard-Drinking Peasant, the video begins conventionally enough, recording the works of each artist on an individual eight-bar basis, before “mixing things up”, juxtaposing the works on show to compare and contrast the different approaches to form, colour and materials used while presenting the essence of the exhibition as a whole and the unifying elements of contemporary Japanese culture running throughout each artist’s work.

A painting of a woman by SaiakuNana
Punk-kawaii: One of SaiakuNana’s paintings at Tokyo Colours.

Energy and movement

“There was nothing staid about the paintings exhibited at Tokyo Colours and so to produce some hackneyed documentary-type piece would have been to do a disservice to the artworks on show,” Ignatius states. “To me, music and art are two sides of the same coin and those artworks oozed energy and movement. The video just had to be set to house music and Hard-Drinking Peasant was the only producer for me.”

“Hats off to Spiral Galleries. It’s an excellent art space and proved the perfect setting for the show. What’s more, Tokyo Park did a fantastic job of putting on this exhibition. It’s hard to believe that this was Martim’s first curation,” he continues. “I just feel sorry for anyone with an interest in either modern art, contemporary Japan or both that couldn’t make it to Tokyo Colours while it was on. At least through this video they can get a snippet of what they missed, I hope.”

A painting of a woman by Mayumi Konno
Returning artist: Mayumi Konno will exhibit again in June.

New show in June

While the doors have now firmly closed on the Tokyo Colours exhibition, the show was no flash in the pan, with Tokyo Park gearing up to stage a second show at Spiral Galleries this coming June 16-25. Running under the title of Onna No Ko, this forthcoming exhibition, as its name suggests in Japanese, will focus on the female form and imagery. Upping the stakes from the previous show, Onna No Ko will feature the work of nine not-to-be-missed Japanese artists in the guise of Isayamaxx; Hajime Sakurai; Kaori Miyano; Yutanpo Shirane; Sekiya Kayoko; Someta; Syuka; the returning Mayumi Konno; and Ninjin Art collaborator Hinano Niimi.

“Onna No Ko is an homage to humanity’s oldest source of artistic inspiration: women. An endless and beautiful theme that deserves the most contemporary Japanese perspective,” Martim says. “I wish to invite everyone to join me and explore the powerful subject that is femininity as painter, sitter and muse.”

‘Tokyo Colours: A New Wave of Colour and Beauty’ can be viewed online at the Ninjin Art website (https://www.ninjinart.com) and on YouTube (https://youtu.be/xazMprLvzwU). Meanwhile, more information on the upcoming Onna No Ko exhibition can be found online at the Tokyo Park website (https://www.tokyoparkgallery.com).

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Notes to Editors

1) Ninjin Art producer Ignatius Rake specialises in making music-driven films, videos and animations. To date, he has worked with artists, bands and musicians in and from the UK, Poland and Japan, including SaiakuNana, Hinano Niimi and members of Madness and Dexys Midnight Runners among others. In 2022, he won a Special Award at the 12th Unco Film Festival in Tokyo and this past May 17 scooped two silvers at the 2023 Japan Indies Music Awards at the Shibuya Milky Way in Tokyo.

2) Tokyo Park was founded by Martim Barroso. Born in 1997 and originally from Portugal, he gained an academic background in History, Art History, Art Curation and Museological Practices at the University of Lisbon before moving to London in 2019 to pursue an MA in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Following a lecture on Asian Emerging Markets, he became increasingly focussed on Japanese contemporary art. Tokyo Colours was his first curated exhibition and from 2023 he plans to stage further shows promoting Japan’s newest artistic talents across the UK and Europe. https://www.tokyoparkgallery.com

3) Spiral Galleries is a multipurpose art space located at 44A Charlotte Rd, London EC2A 3PD, UK. https://www.spiralgalleries.co.uk

4) Hard-Drinking Peasant is a house music producer who freely crosses borders, from piano house to trance and drum and bass. One half of Anglo-Polish production team DCV, he has owned four cats and now lives up a tree near Polgooth.

5) The winner of the Grand Prize at the 21st Taro Okamoto Awards for Contemporary Art in 2018, SaiakuNana is a punk-rocker known for making intensely pink acrylic/mixed media paintings that often incorporate uncommon materials, such as typed paper, found objects, both Japanese and English text and a recurring electric-guitar-playing girl that may or may not be SaiakuNana herself. Between October 2021 and July 2022, she ran her own fully immersive and highly distinctive galley on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch.

6) Still in her early 20s, Ashiya Shiguma draws partially concepted animated women that incorporate luminous paint as well such unconventional mediums as torn cardboard and the celluloid sheets once used in vintage animations. She has a particular affection for the Golden Age of Anime of the early 2000s, as evidenced by her subject’s big rounds eyes, sharp eyelashes and colourful, flowing hair.

6) Mayumi Konno’s recurring female protagonists wear a mysterious piercing gaze, attentively observing the viewer while surrounded by abstract violet and blue backgrounds and missing textures that combine to create an otherworldly harmony. Despite their strong resemblance to digital artworks, complete with the grey-and-white ‘transparent’ background familiar to Photoshop users worldwide, her works are actually highly detailed paintings executed exquisitely in acrylics.

7) Neko takes full advantage of his endless artistic inspiration, turning every medium and surface into paint-layered colourful works of art. A means of breaking his own isolation, his paintings feature a series of women that tease the viewer with their enigmatic smiles and alluring presences.

8) TYM344’s work focusses on the ‘Binarization of Art’ through the use of just black paint and white. As well as items of computer code, his paintings include urban landscapes composed of street signs and advertising that are solely populated by two characters, Yuu san and Ai san, who react to their environment and their painter with emotions that are at once clearly recognisable despite the use of minimal facial detailing.

Press Contact: Ignatius Rake.

Picture credits: Ignatius Rake/Ninjin Art.

Interviews and high-resolution photographs available on request.

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