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haptic green / On Her Skin
Naruki Oshima: haptic green - in Mt. Ogura, 2013

haptic green / On Her Skin

Naruki Oshima » Asako Shimizu »

Exhibition: 7 Nov – 21 Dec 2013

NextLevel Galerie

8, rue Charlot
75003 Paris

+33(0)1-44 54 90 88


by appt

haptic green / On Her Skin
Naruki Oshima, haptic green - in two cedar trees, 2013

Naruki Oshima
haptic green

Exhibition: November 7th until December 21st, 2013

With a well-established international reputation, Japanese photographer Naruki Oshima (born in 1963, Osaka, Japan) is especially known for his work «Reflections», fascinating images of contemporary glass façades that, thanks to the quality of straightforward four by five film photography with subtle digital reworking, unsettle the perception of our environment. Despite the pictures’ clearly urban setting, nature is nonetheless present, filtering in through the transparent surfaces and imposing its presence on building sites.

Nature is even more present in the «haptic green» series currently exhibited at the gallery. In this series, entirely focused on the natural landscape, Naruki Oshima applies a complex technical process that allows him to deconstruct an image into more than two hundred elements, from which he then reconstructs a new image. The process he uses is like a scan: with the camera fixed at a precise point, the artist methodically shoots a series of images starting from the bottom left corner of the frame, up to the top right-hand side. In reassembling the shots, Oshima works meticulously to correct distortions created by the fixed camera angle and to erase overlaps, in order to give the impression of a single image, a single shot. It is nonetheless a long way from the traditional process of collage whereby each element retains its own identity in a deliberate overlapping process.

Naruki Oshima redistributes the image’s composing elements, combining close ups with long distance frames, mixing focused with blurred. The result poses a challenge to both Western perspectivist culture and to the flat tones typical of Japanese art. For Naruki Oshima’s art follows a path somewhere in between, with rich layered surfaces and spaces of incredible depth, but in solid, flat tones. Background is brought to the surface; frontiers between different planes are abolished. By subtly twisting our spatial notions an habits, the artist creates a strange new world. He also invokes temporality by trying to capture the fleeting impression left by a place seen only briefly, like a landscape passing before the windows of a train or a car. This sense of the ephemeral, recurrent in Japanese culture, allows us to overcome our perceptive barriers and discover, in the interstices, new possibilities, a new time-space approach to the world.

Naruki Oshima’s photography requires us to focus, to pay attention: to enter into the image, the viewer must be receptive to its hypnotic calm and to the subtle signs that provide the keys. But he or she can also gently glide over the image, without trying to decode its mysterious aura. This is where Oshima reinvents the notion of «haptic»: usually defined as the process of recognizing objects through touch, he uses it to refer to a visual, retinal tactility.

For we want to reach out and touch these apparently living trees, trapped beneath the Plexiglas. The strength of the images lies in their capacity to create, through sophisticated artistic enquiry, a new perspective on the world that the artist triggers by deliberately destabilizing our preformatted gaze. The process also scrambles our cognitive capacity to understand an image, usually by approaching or retreating from it in order to better understand. When Naruki Oshima photographs a subject, it becomes a conceptual form, a block of colour, an interplay of light and shade. It nonetheless retains a link to reality that is both tenuous and dense. One cannot apply a sociocultural framework to read his images, yet neither are they pure abstraction. It is in this subtle tension between opposites that a possible and fascinating unknown can emerge. (Text by Valérie Douniaux, 2013, Art historian specialised in Japanese modern and contemporary art English translation : Miranda Salt)

NARUKI OSHIMA, born in 1963 in Osaka, divides his living and working time between Germany and Japan. He has studied in both countries including in Thomas Ruff’s class at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and completing his Ph.D. in Fine Art at Kyoto City Art University. To date, Naruki Oshima has numerous exhibitions in renowned galleries and institutions in both his native Japan and abroad, some of which include the Venice Biennale, the Hyogo prefectural Museum of Art, the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, the Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, and his work has been featured in the Japan Statement section at Paris Photo 2008. Naruki Oshima’s work is presented in a number of Japanese collections including the National Museum of Art, Osaka ; The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, The Tokushima Modern Art Museum amongst many others.

haptic green / On Her Skin
Asako Shimizu: On her Skin #1, 2006

Asako Shimizu
On her Skin

Exhibition: November 7th until December 21st, 2013

Asako Shimizu (born in 1969, Tokyo, Japan)’s pure, light-drenched photographs emit an arresting beauty and harmony. We lose ourselves in her floating spaces, a half world between dream and reality, a limbo born from the union of earth and sky and in which anything is possible.

Mankind is indeed small in this majestic nature, a dot on the horizon that blends into the landscape to perhaps disappear completely, returning to the original matrix, the great void so revered in Asian religions. Or perhaps Asako Shimizu’s images are there to remind us that humanity was born from water, light and the nourishing earth, and to express our gratitude for this?

The title of the series «On her Skin», is a direct reference to «Her», Mother Earth, our collective and universal hearth that we so mistreat. These photographs stem from Asako Shimizu’s desire to both reconnect with her own profound self and to seek a sense of unity between man and nature, so frayed and worn. For this difficult mission, the brave Japanese artist did not hesitate to travel to the top of the world, to the extraordinary Salar de Uyuni, vast salt flat on the plateau of Bolivia. Once there, Asako Shimizu waited patiently for a message from nature, for a magical moment of grace between man, light and the elements.

Her images are moving and intuitive, captured on paper without any digital retouching. Time stops for these brief, furtive moments that are immortalized by the magic of photography and by the artist’s delicate attention to nature’s tiniest breath. With a world vision firmly anchored in Asian philosophy, Asako Shimizu sees herself as a humble cog in a vast system, compared to the self-centered, centrifugal Western world vision whose subjective gaze renders impossible any fusion or balance with nature. Shimizu recounts how, during this Bolivian mission, she rediscovered her own, deeply Japanese origins; her work, simultaneously universal and introspective, is thus steeped in the very Japanese notion of the lightness and impermanence of beings and things.

Whilst «On her Skin» is profoundly meditative, it is also visually hypnotic with a pictorial density that is on the verge of abstraction. Powerful yet gentle, even peaceful, the photos resemble the artist herself; delicate yet ready to brave extreme and difficult conditions in order to bring us these poetic works, moments of pure enchantment and delight. From the snows of Hokkaido to the fogs of Portugal, Asako Shimizu pursues her odyssey and dialogue with the world in a quest for rare and random beauty, to places where the curtain slips for a fraction of a second and communion with nature is possible. Crystal-clear and with the glowing light of a new dawn, Shimizu’s images renew our respect for nature and remind us of our true place on the planet. (Text by Valérie Douniaux, 2013, Art historian specialized in Modern and Contemporary Japanese art. English translation : Miranda Salt)

«Asako Shimizu’s unique approach towards photography is derived from her belief in the original power of camera to visualize emotions which beyond our visual perceptions. As an artist, she disciplines her self-express impulsion and instead let a machine interacts to the world and focus images of unexpected figures and values inherited to a subject. This objective sense makes the series of works narrative and fantastic providing the pure joy of integrating ourselves into the images.» - Minako Ishii, Art curator

«On Her Skin» series was celebrated as an Excellence Award Winner of «New Cosmos of Photography» project by recommendation of Mr. Fumio Nanjo, the director of Mori Art Museum. For the first time in Europe the series has been featured at Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam, 2013. Based in Tokyo, Asako Shimizu has been participated in numerous exhibitions including a group show at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

haptic green / On Her Skin
Asako Shimizu: On her Skin #1, 2006