Natsuko Sakamoto

Solo Exhibition

"A Yardstick for Straying: Drawing Constellations Among the Stardust of Signals"

Saturday, June 8, 2019 - Saturday, July 6, 2019

Reception for the artist: 18:00 – 20:00 Saturday, June 9, 2019
Gallery hours: 11:00-18:00, 11:00-20:00 (Fri)
Close on Sunday, Monday and National Holiday

Signals, mapping  (Detail)
2019, Oil on canvas, H194xW130.3cm
Photo by Ichiro Mishima
© Natsuko Sakamoto 


ANOMALY is pleased to announce the upcoming solo exhibition “A Yardstick for Staying: Drawing Constellations Among the Stardust of Signals” by Natsuko Sakamoto. The exhibition will commence on June 8 and continue until July 6.

Born in 1983, Natsuko Sakamoto received a doctorate in fine arts from the Aichi University of the Arts and Music Graduate School of Fine Arts in 2012. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions including “Garden of Painting: Japanese Art of the 00s” (the National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2010), “ART as MAGIC – Visionary Artists and Their Inner Supernatural World” (Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, 2012), and “DER STURM” (Nagoya Citizen’s Gallery Yada, Nagoya, 2013). She also unveiled large-scale works produced in an artist-in-residence program for the solo exhibition “ARKO 2013 Natsuko Sakamoto” (Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, 2013). A promising young artist whose future activities are highly anticipated, she was awarded the First Kinutani Koji Encouragement Prize in 2009 and the VOCA Encouragement Prize in 2010. In more recent years, she has also taken part in exhibitions by Parplume, a collective of young artists.

Sakamoto produces distorted space through her technique of linking completed shapes without returning to any of them once rendered. She applies pigments stroke by stroke beginning from the ends of the canvas, leaving sections of it covered by what look like self-proliferating cells. She has also attracted attention for the figures of women resembling herself in her paintings, which have a distinctive labyrinthine character and an embedded mechanism that seems to pull viewers into them.

Beginning in 2012, Sakamoto shifted to a mode of depiction that brought the act of painting to the fore as opposed to reliance on the narrative dimension inherent in pictures and their image-based visions. In so doing, she is further pursuing her interest in “worlds that can only be expressed in paintings.”

For this solo exhibition, her first in three years, Sakamoto produced Signals, a triptych that is her latest work. Proceeding from a system of coordinate axes placed in the background space, which appears to spread out infinitely like outer space or cyberspace, it consists of an aggregate of painted points and grid meshes that seem to glimmer and are imbued with a unique texture and rhythm. While creating forms like multiple synapses, she connects them with lines running in every direction, thereby depicting our four dimensions of space and time on a two-dimensional plane.

In the process of creating this work, Sakamoto noticed that the height of the canvas she preferred to use was almost exactly the same as the length of her body when she extended one arm upward as high as she could. This is chance that smacks of inevitability, but may also be termed a certain “yardstick” grounded in her own gut feeling, and one that she can use for moving ahead in a completely chaotic cosmos. She also incorporates chance by the practice of scattering particles on the dining room table at home and arbitrarily choosing coordinates from them as the starting points for painting.

By adopting her own physical scale as a “yardstick” even while yielding to chance and accepting uncertainty, Sakamoto lets her mind play on the connections with the here and now she is actually experiencing through her body and sensation, and attempts to catch not only causes and effects but even the complex vagaries induced by different phenomena, through careful observation.

Our current age is a complicated, mesh-like entwinement of all sorts of elements including global warming, radioactive contamination, crustal movement, and the universe, biosphere, and human society affected by the same. It is awash with uncertainties and chance happenings that can no longer be perceived by human sensation alone. Sakamoto is perhaps suggesting that the search for factors prior to affirmation or negation within this unlimited network might hold the key to deciphering the unprecedented complexity of the present.

We could view human beings as aggregate organic entities comprised of a high-level interlacing of cells and microorganisms, inhabiting a world that is changing every day and every moment. In a similar way, Sakamoto’s paintings likewise forge mutual connections from the micro to the macro levels, through linkages of pigment units that change with each stroke.


Notes for the exhibition“A Scale for Staying: Drawing Constellations Among the Stardust of Signals”

< Yardstick>

I stretched the canvas on a wooden frame with a height of 194 centimeters. I somehow lean toward this standard size, and noticed that it was almost exactly as high as the length of my body (I am 153.5 centimeters tall) when I stretched my arm out as high as I could. I decided to take this chance but vaguely inevitable overlapping of “vessels” as a yardstick. It is a yardstick that seems to be forcibly prescribed from the outside but was also my body sought unknowingly. I tried eliciting several lines and curves from it. I use it as a kind of makeshift ruler for re-measuring distance between paintings, the world, and myself.

< Point of Reference>

For this piece, I fixed some points on the canvas through a method akin to throwing dice. The concept can be likened to plotting three-dimensional data on a two-dimensional coordinate system. I also worked with the idea of mapping by spreading out two-dimensional data to three and four dimensions.

< Unit – Signal>

Day after day, signals adhere to my body. Nevertheless, the quantity of information capable of being received and filtered by this body without spillage depends on the size and quality of the vessel. All the information in various media, all the words and degrees of warmth received from others, all the messages of the seasons acting on the perception, all the contaminants entering the body unseen, all the body-friendly nutriments – our bodies are overflowing with signals, whether we are conscious of them or not. While forgetting and being forgotten, they again fill us up and overflow. A mass of signals that may or may not have a connection with my body also act on each particle of painting pigment. For this reason, I take small painted dots facilitating observation of ranges of color and form as well as changes in hardness and dryness as units, and the signals I am capable of receiving on a daily basis, as particles of pigment. The result is a log that looks like a map of a nebula composed of signals that expand outward without being completely digested.

< Routes>

I draw lines that resemble constellations or routes while staying inside. I rely on the cloud-shaped ruler born from the yardstick. Even within the configuration of signals scattered like stardust, we end up finding outlines we want to see. This is because it is too difficult for us to wander around without even a clue about any certainty. But on the same horizon containing what we want to see or end up seeing, there also exist what we cannot see, didn’t see, and have never seen.

May 2018 – May 2019 -Natsuko Sakamoto


Besides large paintings with a height of 194 centimeters, this exhibition will display about 90 drawings and also some objects. In addition, the first artist’s book by Sakamoto is slated for sales launch by AKAAKA Art Publishing Inc. in early July of this year. We will follow up on the launching date, and would like to encourage you to take a look at this publication.