Masato Mori “Lonsdaleite Year” NANZUKA UNDERGROUND

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NANZUKA is pleased to present “Lonsdaleite Year,” an exhibition of new works by Masato Mori. The exhibition marks the artist’s first solo presentation with the gallery in five years since his previous show in 2016, and will be held in our newly opened flagship gallery NANZUKA UNDERGROUND located in Tokyo’s Harajuku District.

Mori was born in the Tokushima Prefecture in 1976, where he continues to reside and base his artistic practice. In recent years he has increasingly expanded the scope of his activities internationally, such as presenting a solo exhibition of his work at the Nova section of Art Basel Miami Beach (2019) and taking part in the group exhibition “Tokyo Pop Underground” (2019/2020) at Jeffrey Deitch.

While Mori’s paintings are characterized by their vivid colors and complex texture, they simultaneously present a somewhat comical and light impression. In the process leading to this style, Mori repeated analyzed the various influential relationships that serve as the root of his creative activities, in particular seeking out points of correspondence between his own aesthetic perspective and that of comics, video games, and animation. Furthermore, in Mori’s recent works it is also possible to discover a certain affinity with artists likes Jean Du Buffet, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, and Wassily Kandinsky who had studied children’s paintings and art produced by those with disabilities. Here viewers are able to capture glimpses of the clues that lead to unraveling Mori’s artistic practice, such as innocence and purity that in essence are considered as fundamental themes within art. For Mori, who had learned the joys of drawing through copying popular comic book characters as with any young child skilled in drawing, the manifestation of such correlations within his work had perhaps been a natural course of progression.

“Lonsdaleite Year” is a series that can be regarded as a picture diary describing Mori’s daily life in Tokushima. Mori generates the energy for his artistic practice by raising his interests and intrigue to a level of “passionate enthusiasm.” The daily life of the artist, which essentially is an extension of his various acts of play such as collecting insects, playing in the river, raising animals and plants, enjoying games and cartoons, eventually come to be collected as sources of inspiration for his work.

In addition, what should particularly be noted with regards to Mori’s process of creation is the correlation between three-dimensional works and two-dimensional works. Mori likes to use graphics that he has drawn with a pen tab tool as preliminary sketches for his paintings. The reason he does so, is because the act of expressing different textures to his graphics through the process of applying paint to the canvas, is that which he considers as an important part of his artistic practice. On the other hand, three-dimensional works such as ceramics and bronzes produced by Mori are based on colored pencils drawings that have been sketched from his finished paintings. The process of creating different media such as graphics, painting, drawing, and 3D works as if to facilitate interactions between the three-dimensional and two-dimensional realms, is a technique that Mori naturally arrived at through repeated experimentation.

For this exhibition, Mori plans to present 12 large-scale canvas paintings and 4 bronze pieces, all of which are new works that have been created as a result of a preparatory period of over a year. We hope visitors will take this opportunity to enjoy the artist’s latest creative endeavors.

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