Exhibition, Information, News, Project

In Praise of Shadows: Atsuo Hukuda & Alan Johnston two-person show

WAGON is delighted to announce In Praise of Shadows, the first two-person exhibition between Atsuo Hukuda (b.1958, Hokkaido) and Alan Johnston (b.1945, Edinburgh) in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Hosted by Suisei-Art, a project space based in a historical Kanazawa Machiya building. Curated by Naoko Mabon.

Hukuda is a sculptor who has been concerned with ‘identity of Japanese art’ by employing traditional Japanese crafts and painting techniques and materials such as gold leaf. In Japan, 99% of gold leaf is currently produced in Kanazawa. Johnston, on the other hand, is one of the leading Scottish geometric abstract artists of his generation, whose work is known for wall drawings including a large-scale ceiling drawing commission by Tate Britain in 2013.

Alan Johnston ‘Wall Drawing Yamaguchi’ 1989, Graphite, Photograph: Kazz Fujimoto, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Shimada

Entitled as In Praise of Shadows after a 1933-4 essay by Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965), this exhibition aims to set up a site-specific installation by the artists as their direct and artistic responses to the space of Suisei-Art in a Kanazawa Machiya. This part of Kanazawa’s architectural heritage, originally built in the pre-war period, still holds the shadow – and the dull, delicate light – that Tanizaki praised. They are, according to Tanizaki, one of the unique fundamentals within the Japanese sense of beauty and aesthetic – which, however, is now being lost under the glaring electric lights introduced by the West after the Meiji era. This attempt therefore aims to highlight the now-lost Japanese sensibility and aesthetic once again by focusing on the shadow and light of Tanizaki within a particular architectural environment – Kanazawa Machiya – through a contemporary approach, whilst paying respect towards Kanazawa’s history and tradition.

To achieve this, a collection of Hukuda’s signature gold leaf-based thin, light paintings will be installed within the particular architectural environment of the historical venue. This will silently represent Tanizaki’s mentioning of the reflection of gold leaf in the Japanese room in his essay: ‘faint golden light cast into the enveloping darkness, like at the glow upon the horizon’. Also, a few bespoke drawings by Johnston will be realised on-site onto the venue’s large glass sliding doors/windows, as well as displaying a selection of small paintings. Since Johnston’s work consisting of a web of ‘almost invisible’ (as described by Charles Esche) pencil lines is often conceptualised as ‘drawing a shadow’, this will resonate with Tanizaki’s admiration towards shadows.

Atsuo Hukuda ‘Colour and/or Monochrome’ 2017, Gold leaf, Japanese Washi paper, Japanese Urushi lacquer, 45 x 65 x 17 cm (each), Photograph: Reto Emch, Courtesy of the artist and Haus der Kunst St. Josef

This exhibition will coincide with four related exhibitions across nearby Prefectures to maximise the quality of the promotional activity:

1) 12 May – 24 Sep 2018: Hukuda’s inclusion in a summer group show at Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum;
2) 13 May – 3 Jun 2018: Hukuda’s solo show at Coelacanth – Bushiro Mohri Memorial Museum in Kurobe, Toyama;
3) 15 May – 26 May 2018: Johnston & Hukuda’s two-person show at CONCEPT SPACE・CONCEPT SPACE/R2 in Shibukawa, Gunma;
4) 15 May – 26 May 2018: Hukuda’s solo show at AIS Gallery in Shibukawa, Gunma.

As an opening event, a public talk is planned. The artists and curator will be joined by a guest speaker, Prof Akitaka Kawakami, an Aesthetician and the Director of Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum. As well as their exhibition and works, speakers will exchange their thoughts on the tradition and innovation of culture in Kanazawa and beyond.

We are also planning to produce a limited edition bilingual (English-Japanese) publication. The publication will document the exhibition and event with the aim of introducing work by Hukuda and Johnston, as well as the culture in Kanazawa, to a much wider world thereafter.

This project is supported by: Shibuya Foundation for Science, Culture and Sports; Hope Scott Trust; and The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.

Suisei-Art in Kanazawa


Exhibition title: In Praise of Shadows: Atsuo Hukuda & Alan Johnston two-person show
Exhibition period: 12 May – 3 Jun 2018

Venue: Suisei-Art (11-8-1 Sanjyamachi, Kanazawa-City, Ishikawa 920-0861 Japan)
Opening hours: Tue, Wed and Thu 11am-4pm | Sat and Sun 11am-8pm | Closed on Mon and Fri
Curated by: Naoko Mabon, Independent Curator
Cooperation: Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum; Coelacanth – Bushiro Mohri Memorial Museum; CONCEPT SPACE | CONCEPT SPACE/R2; and AIS Gallery
Supported by: Shibuya Foundation for Science, Culture and Sports; Hope Scott Trust; and The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

Opening event:
12 May 2018, 4pm-5pm. Free, no booking required.
Artists’ Talk with Prof Akitaka Kawakami, an Aesthetician and the Director of Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum, followed by a casual reception (5pm-7pm)


Related exhibition 1:
Summer Group Show in 2018 (*this exhibition will include work by Hukuda)
12 May – 24 Sep 2018

Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum (1-3-10 Higashiyama, Kanazawa-City, Ishikawa 920-0831 Japan)
Open everyday 9.30am-5pm *entrance fee required

Related exhibition 2:
Atsuo Hukuda solo show ‘Colour and/or Monochrome’
13 May – 3 Jun 2018

Coelacanth – Bushiro Mohri Memorial Museum (41 Kuridera, Kurobe-City, Toyama 938-0803 Japan)
Open on Fri, Sat and Sun 11am-4pm
*entrance fee required for the permanent collection room

Related exhibition 3:
‘Out of Silence’ Atsuo Hukuda & Alan Johnston two-person show
15 May – 26 May 2018

CONCEPT SPACE | CONCEPT SPACE/R2 (309-8 Ishihara, Shibukawa-City, Gunma 377-0007 Japan)
Open everyday 1pm-6pm *admission free

Related exhibition 4:
Atsuo Hukuda solo show & new publication launch
15 May – 26 May 2018

AIS Gallery (1763-12 Shibukawa, Shibukawa-City, Gunma 377-0008 Japan)
Open everyday 1pm-6pm
*admission free but prior booking required via hukuda3323@ybb.ne.jp

公益財団法人 澁谷学術文化スポーツ振興財団
Shibuya Foundation for Science, Culture and Sports