Saturday, April 20, 2019 - Saturday, May 25, 2019
Opening reception: 18:00 – 20:00 Saturday, April 20, 2019
Gallery hours: 11:00-18:00, 11:00-20:00 (Fri)
Tulpa – Starfish girl (Left) Detail, 2019 / Tulpa – Honeycomb man (Right) Detail, 2019
© Motohiko Odani
ANOMALY is pleased to announce our upcoming solo exhibition by Motohiko Odani, “Tulpa –Here is me.” The exhibition will commence on April 20 and continue until May 25.
Born in 1972, Motohiko Odani made his artistic debut with the 1997 solo exhibition “Phantom Limb,” and exhibited internationally at the art biennales of Lyon 2000, Istanbul 2001, Gwangju 2002, and at the Japan Pavilion as a representative of his country in Venice 2003.
His work has been highly acclaimed inside and outside Japan. Remaining in vigorous activity, he has also continued to show works in group exhibitions at venues including the Art Tower Mito (Ibaraki), Sandretto Foundation (Turin), Art Sonje Center (Seoul), Art Sonje Museum (Gyeongju), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), Kiasma Finnish National Gallery (Helsinki), and National Museum of Art (Osaka). Odani graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music with a degree in sculpture, but his works are not confined to that genre; they cover a wide range of media including photography, video, and installations. He is an artist with a rare ability to create using diverse modes of expression not bound to any particular medium.
In his solo exhibition “Hollow” at Ginza Maison Hermès Le Forum in 2009 and that titled “Phantom Limb” at Mori Art Museum in 2010 (which also visited the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Takamatsu City Museum, and Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto), Odani presented large installations, sculptures, and video works that shook physical sensation and made a strong impression on visitors with the way it enveloped the concept of “body” in phantasm. Thereafter, he held a solo exhibition at Fotografiska in Sweden in 2013, and took part in group exhibitions at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa in 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2014, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in 2015, National Museum of Art Osaka in 2016, and Daegu Art Museum in 2017.
For this solo exhibition, Odani is going to present sculptures of human bodies, which may be termed one of the foundations of sculpture.
In Japan, modern artists made sculptures of human bodies under the influence of Auguste Rodin and other Western predecessors, within the closed environment of the Far East. The value placed in such depiction, which perhaps still continues today and could even be linked to a kind of faith, is grounded in the view of those artists that the genre could be likened to a zombie, in the sense that it remains alive although it is dead. In this view, there actually is no single unique entity corresponding to the self inside us; there are only numerous phantoms inside the brain, that wander around in our minds and prod us into action. Odani conceived the idea of making this suspicion visible, by creating sculptures of these spectral (zombie) occupants in the brain. In line with this idea, he unveiled a mounted samurai and female nude for a solo exhibition in 2009.
For the new works in this exhibition, Odani is producing sculptures of himself, that is, self portraits. He was suddenly felled by a coronary (myocardial infarction) in 2017, and the experience was instrumental in his reflections on “body,” which had been the main theme of his work to that point.
The concern of “Phantom Limb,” his 1997 debut solo exhibition, was precisely the phantom sensation of a lost body part. And ever since, body and the phantoms of its sensations have been a core theme running through his output.
With half of his own heart muscles now necrotic, Odani lives in the gap between the “lost body” and “remaining body,” and continues to produce works on the same kind of theme. The art of this exhibition was born within this link.
In all of the portraits in this exhibition, Odani places his own head on another’s body or fuses it with plants and animals. The sound, light, and other elements are based on the sound of his half-necrotic heart and regarded as signals in inter-sculpture communication and surveillance. He thought of the organic pentagon and honeycomb hexagonal shapes they describe, he says, as symbols of spatial distortion as well as signs of life, death, and transformational relationships from ancient times.
Is this a 3D mandala representing a single artist’s outlook on life and death? A surrealistic garden? A rite of magic realism? A stage for new-age theater? Odani says it is a vision existing on the spatial and temporal border before and after his own death.
The title “Tulpa” is used in the sense of emanation-body or thoughtform. It derives from Odani’s gut realization of the existence of a parallel identity at the moment his heart stopped. In the event of sudden happenings or outcomes, people point to various factors and ties of causation stretching back over the years in trying to comprehend them. In his own case, Odani arrived at the question, “Is there any consistency in this world to begin with?” And in the end, he came up with the reply, “I am here, but it is both me and not me,” and made a portrait of his own death. The title “Here is Me” echoes the work “Here is Rose Sélavy” by Marcel Duchamp. Rose Sélavy shows Duchamp’s multiplicity and is his female alter ego. In contemporary terms, it might be called an avatar of his. In the work “Tonsure,” the back of Duchamp’s head is shaved in the shape of a pentagram. The ancient Egyptians overlaid a star on a starfish and a womb on the star to express their outlook on life and death. Odani sensed a sign of transformation in this pentagram and chose it for the title of this exhibition.
“In ancient times, the art of sculpture developed on the border of human life and death, and was deemed necessary.
I personally experienced the brink of death’s abyss while being carried to the hospital in an ambulance about one and a half years ago. During that ride, I could see a self existing in parallel from when I hovered between life and death. Even after being discharged and returning to the studio, I felt as if I were wandering around that border while changing myself into different forms. Along with my recovery, I began to think that I might be able to approach the primordial locus of sculpture if I could translate the experience of communication between this world and the beyond into works, using my own form as the material. While this could possibly be my last group of sculptures, I figured I just might be able to output the narrative of “rebirth and resurrection” that is the essence of the sculpture medium by means of them.”
– Motohiko Odani