Jonathan Chapline: Metropolis. Nanzuka Undergrtound. Tokyo

NANZUKA is pleased to present a solo exhibition with New York-based American artist Jonathan Chapline. This marks the artist’s second solo presentation at our flagship gallery Nanzuka Underground following his show held in January 2020 before the gallery’s relocation from Shibuya.  

Chapline graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, recognized as one of the most prestigious and highest-ranking art academies in the United States, and is greatly anticipated as one of the new generation of artists actively employing digital technology. In recent years he has received much attention and acclaim for his exhibition projects such as “Sprawl” (The Hole, Los Angeles, 2022), “Plein-Air, Herzog and de Meuron Building” (The Hole, in conjunction with ICA Miami, 2020), and “amfAR Gala Cannes” (Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France, 2020).  

In the context of Chapline’s work, the word “rendering” extends beyond the framework of computer language to be used as an art term. From the shapes of the objects to the perspectives from which they are captured, the texture of their surfaces, the light source, and shading, Chapline simulates all physical elements necessary for the production of his paintings in advance on a computer screen using a 3D program.  

This exhibition “Metropolis” is centered on a new series of work born from Chapline’s profound interest in architecture and space. Chapline had versed himself in the futuristic urban architectural projects of the mid-20th century, such as Le Corbusier’s “Plan Voisin,” the 1939 New York Exposition “World of Tomorrow,” Robert Moses’ urban development projects, Paul Rudolph’s architectural concept LOMEX (the Lower Manhattan Expressway), and Lucio Costa’s Brasilia Superquadra. At the same time, he studied the works of Suprematist painters including the likes of Sophie Tauber-Alp and Kazimir Malevich to develop a deeper understanding for their logic of visual perception, as well as their method of determining composition and imagery. 

Chapline’s new paintings, formulated using 3D software, depict aggregate ensembles of structures that have been liberated from specific functions by means of deconstructing architecture. In these works, all elements are reconceived accompanied by an aesthetic power of weightlessness. In digital space, cities appear to be freely variable, yet at the same time they are not. Furthermore, with the details of objects, monuments, and spaces removed, the scenery becomes more uniform and intrinsic.  

Produced in this way, it is possible to discern an influential relationship between Chapline’s works and the paintings of Al Held, Oscar Niemeyer’s Cathedral of Brasilia, and Arata Isozaki’s “City in the Air,” as well as ancient Roman architecture such as aqueducts and colosseums. However, Chapline’s digital urban landscapes visually reveal the intrinsic functions of the city, and also reflects the implicit functional beauty of modern spaces
that are subject to progressive civilization. The exhibition also presents a large-scale bronze fountain sculpture that the artist completed following a long conception period and complex production process. This fixation with three-dimensional works bears links to the context developed by artists such as Louise Nevelson, Constantin Brâncuși, and Jacque Lipchitz, who have greatly informed us of the significance of three-dimensional art in contemporary urban spaces. 

An opening exhibition with the artist will take place on Friday March 17th at 17:00-19:00


3 Chome-30-10 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Lisbeth Thalberg
Lisbeth Thalberg
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM.
Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles