Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi: Review on ArtsuZe

Inside a typical LA strip mall, under a shop sign that reads “Best Cleaners”, no garments are being dry cleaned, but instead, narratives are being created. We love that Nonaka-Hill don’t take themselves too seriously, after all, a bit of levity always makes art more accessible. The gallery’s remnant signage especially enhances the mood in the current exhibition by artists Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi.

The exhibition weaves together a narrative of cosmology, evolution, civilization, and an acceptance of the inevitable. Rooms bathed in colored light forebode like the shepherd’s red sky in the morning. An intense atmosphere of red reduces a lone figure to surviving on an artificial island in a flooded field. The scene is solemn, but the title of “Eclipse Dance” suggests more liveliness than the limbless figure can manifest.

Moving into another room is like being transported to another age where the atmosphere holds different molecules that interplay with the light to give it a different color. In the icy coldness of the blue room, the world has gone topsy-turvy, as human haired mops hang from the ceiling and Mount Fuji tumbles upside down outside the window.

Stepping into the yellow room feels like entering a lost cave in the desert where sacred scrolls were hidden and forgotten. In this atmosphere of yellow, everything feels sterile, well preserved, well archived. The scrolls in the yellow cave tell the story of what happened, but the scrolls are not the only telltales. Artifacts in the other spaces also testify to our efforts.

An air of “oh well, that’s how it goes” pervades this exhibition of Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi. There is outward passivity, perhaps because of an inner optimism from knowing that we have the ability to accept and adapt.

This exhibition runs July 27 to August 31, 2019.


ArtsuZe, July 31, 2019


Best of L.A. Arts: The Galleries of Hollywood Media District, LA WEEKLY, August 16, 2019

Installation views: Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi

Installation views: Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi


Situated in a nondescript strip mall, right next to a 24-hour Yum Yum Donuts, the new Nonaka-Hill gallery’s storefront is still dominated by the big Best Cleaners sign that belonged to the space’s previous tenant. Launched last year, Nonaka-Hill primarily shows contemporary Japanese art. Through the end of August, the gallery’s unusual opening hours of 7 to 11 p.m. allow visitors to view the light-based installations of Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi while it’s optimally dark outside.

In September and early October, Nonaka-Hill will showcase the work of 20th-century conceptual artist Yutaka Matsuzawa, along with photographs by his close friend and collaborator Hanaga Mitsutoshi. Then, on October 12, the gallery will present works from the archive of Butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata, on loan from Keio University in Tokyo.

—Lyle Zimskind



Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito at ADRIAN ROSENFELD GALLERY

We are very proud of our collaboration with Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery to present Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito in San Francisco. And, wow, what a nice review!


In describing the opening scene of Godard’s Passion (1982), Harun Farocki has remarked that the shot’s unsteady pan—which follows an airplane’s disintegrating white contrail—is actually a register of “the movements of Godard’s eyes, scanning the sky to see what it can tell us.” Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito’s exhibition at Adrian Rosenfeld is a similar pan through the six-decade career of this power couple within the Minimalism movement. In Kuwayama’s Untitled (Diptych), 1969, a bisected blue panel measuring more than seven feet in both directions is mounted beside a bisected white panel of equal magnitude—a sky reduced to its most elemental components. Light falling across the canvases creates the illusion of a color gradient that shifts with the viewer’s position. Across the room, in Kuwayama’s Untitled, 1971, green and gray rectangular canvases of varying sizes are lined up in the convex shape of a bar graph. Like Naito’s works, which veer toward optical illusions, this self-reflexive piece nods to the fact that pattern identification is an essential function of vision, and data visualization has further trained the eye to assign values to shapes. But here, shapes and colors are illegible and devoid of information.

With this reduction of subject matter, other details become apparent: Kuwayama’s monotone paintings are often separated by aluminum strips that entrap the canvases. Hedges come to mind, or formal gardens in which plants are recast as geometric elements. While both artists' work suggests intensive studies of the natural, its hues and symmetries, there is also a brutality to the way each prunes away unwanted wildness. The restrained and proportionally perfect compositions remind the viewer of the artists’ integral roles in the nascent stages of Minimalism, when they worked alongside artists such as Donald Judd and Frank Stella, and Kuwayama showed at the Green Gallery. Kuwayama’s and Naito’s works are perfect, if perfection is understood as a sensual discipline.


— Theadora Walsh


Masaomi Yasunaga's review on Los Angeles Times

Gravel, glass and glaze: The radical ceramics of Masaomi Yasunaga

by Leah Ollman

If Masaomi Yasunaga's astonishing ceramic sculptures were parts of speech, they would be at once both nouns and verbs. They are extraordinary objects, tactile things with insistent, engrossing physicality. They are also so process-oriented, so action-driven, that they seem in some sort of continuous temporal motion, existing simultaneously in multiple tenses: present and past, conditional and subjunctive.

Some 30 vessels rest on a raised bed of gravel running the length of Nonaka-Hill gallery in L.A. The installation evokes a raised tomb, reinforcing an impression of the works as excavated, unearthed. Many have surfaces encrusted with stone bits. One large bowl appears entirely comprised of rubble, its walls a thick, white, rocky crust, pocked with voids and graced with passages of glassy jade and violet. Other pieces are more delicate — a little cup, for instance, with walls like a fine, crisp shell, nests within another, just slightly larger, to yield an intimate meditation in umber and taupe.

For every rugged and raw gesture, there are others with roots in refined tradition, jars with graceful silhouettes and finely shaped handles. Relics from ancient Rome come to mind — urns and oil lamps. Across a long shelf in the adjoining space parades a lyrical little menagerie: vessels in the form of birds, a turtle, perhaps a snail. Nearby sits a stunning, small cup of aqua glass with a white-rimed lip and grit-barnacled base, suggesting oceanic salvage and organic decay. Yasunaga titles this piece, and several others, “Sai,” meaning to break or collapse. “Tokeru Utsuwa,” defined as melting vessel, is the name of a few other pieces. The forces of erosion act here as a kind of generative impulse, unmaking as inspiration to make.

Material transformation is fundamental to ceramics, but what Yasunaga does with clay, glaze, ash and glass is radically inventive as well as profuse in metaphorical resonance. Many pieces are identified as made only of glaze. Through a process involving burial in sand, soil or stone, Yasunaga turns what is conventionally used as a skin to sheathe a clay body into a body itself, both bone and flesh. Extracting the works from the kiln and placing them atop a bed of gravel furthers the notion of reciprocity between what is below ground and what is above, between archaeological time's expansive breadth and the immediate now of touch, utility and sensual reverie. The work feels at once primal and urgent.

Yasunaga has exhibited extensively in his native Japan, but this is his first solo show in the U.S. In turns raw and elegant, it is never less than thrilling.


Miho Dohi's review on Los Angeles Times

Review: Miho Dohi turns scrap materials into sculptural poetry

by Christopher Night

Small-scale sculptures by Miho Dohi are like handmade driftwood, a kind of cultural debris that has been carefully shaped into poetic forms by unseen forces. Scrap materials get unexpected new life.

Eight table-top sculptures, two on the wall and one suspended from the ceiling are in the artist’s Los Angeles debut at Nonaka-Hill Gallery. Based in Kanagawa, Japan, south of Tokyo, Dohi calls her sculptures buttai — objects — a usage that locates them somewhere between the cherished and the everyday. Her materials are humble, even mundane — paper, wire mesh, cotton batting, yarn, chunks of scrap wood — but they have been assembled with self-evident precision.

Juxtapositions are certainly eccentric, as when small pieces of copper screen are trimmed in tufts of raw cotton, or a small wooden lump is crowned with a droopy paper disk. Metal strips are applied as nominal handles for things that will only be picked up in the imagination, while lengths of twisted yarn are further bound with thread.

Move around Dohi’s objects, and the shapes shift — one side looking nothing like the other. Her compositions are additive — one thing attached to another and then another — but always the forms end up turning back in on themselves.

It’s as if growth is something internalized rather than expansive, the capacious quality a trait of the object alone rather than something dependent on its relationship to the space around it. Classical Japanese arts of refinement are deeply embedded in the work, but any established language of circumscribed control is energetically rebuffed. Inventiveness is prized over constraint.

Like Richard Tuttle’s sculptures made from scraps, Dohi’s diminutive objects radiate an element of pathos. Yet they burst with lively eccentricity too. Resolutely abstract, her sculptures are cutting-edge spirit catchers.