bye bye kitty!!! japan society, new york, USA march 18th – june 12th, 2011

detail of makoto aida’s ‘harakiri school girls’ (2002), part of the ‘bye bye kitty!!!’ exhibition at new york’s japan society image © makoto aida, courtesy of mizuma art gallery

up at new york’s japan society, the exhibition ‘bye bye kitty!!!: between heaven and hell in contemporary japanese art’ features the works of sixteen artists engaging in critical dialogue with tradition and contemporary culture.

curator david elliott reflects: ‘here we see Japanese artists critically examining tradition and history; responding to a threatened natural world; and expressing an unquiet, even nightmarish, consciousness. taken together, these three approaches comprise a quintessentially japanese response to the present and the future.‘

bye bye kitty!!! at japan society yoshitomo nara’s 2008 photograph is the touchstone work of the exhibition image courtesy of animal new york

many of the works sample from traditional aesthetics: a large triptych by hisashi tenmyouya treats the subject of battle in imagery characteristic of traditional depictions, but illustrates the feral brutality of war rather than the expected lofty religious imagery. likewise, yamaguchi akira’s ‘narita international airport’ adopts the perspective of seventeenth century illustrations of kyoto, but with airplanes circling the skies and the classic misty clouds cast in a yellow suggestive of pollution.

other works include the debut of kohei nawa’s ‘pixcell-deer #24’, a taxidermized deer whose skin has been covered with different sized plastic beads; large-scale paperwork installations by tomoko shioyasu and haruka kojin; and chiharu shiota’s ‘dialogue with absence’, which links a painted wedding dress, pumps, tubing, and red-dyed water.

concepts that repeat across multiple works in the exhibition include a challenging of the ‘kawaii’ (cute) aesthetic of japan, and a treatment of our relationship to the rest of the world, whether in terms of environmental concerns or national boundaries.

bye bye kitty!!! at japan society yamaguchi akira’s ‘narita international airport’ (2005)

the sixteen artists represented in the exhibition are: kohei nawa, tomoko shioyasu, yamaguchi akira, makoto aida, haruka kojin, chiharu shiota, manabu ikeda, tomoko kashiki, kumi machida, yoshitomo nara, rinko kawauchi, motohiko odani, hisashi tenmyouya, hiraki sawa, miwa yanagi, and tomoko yoneda.

50% of all admission sales for the exhibition will go to japan society’s earthquake relief fund.

bye bye kitty!!! at japan society chiharu shiota’s ‘dialogue with absence’ (2010) on exhibition in paris image courtesy of galerie christophe gaillard

bye bye kitty!!! at japan society hisashi tenmyouya’s ‘defeat at the single blow, robust and magnificent feature, gallant and brave behaviour’ (2008)

bye bye kitty!!! at japan society kohei nawa’s ‘pixcell-deer#24’, a new addition to his beaded taxidermy pixcell series, arrives in new york in preparation for the exhibition images courtesy of dnainfo