A little while ago we became familiar with the fascinating work of the very talented Tokyo-based artist Ei Kaneko, who just opened a new solo exhibition named ‘YEN’ at the Clear Edition & Gallery in his hometown last Friday. With his moody and slightly surrealist style, Kaneko’s work, which he creates strictly with graphite, is at once strikingly beautiful and also a little disconcerting, a combination which we find particularly fascinating. The work of Kaneko often features limbs and facial features cut out and re-assembled, using the fragments of images to create a new ambiguous meaning within his juxtapositions. Through the use of the toned down color palette of pencil graphite the images all inhabit a certain softness in their core which clashes strongly with the hard juxtapositioning of the image fragments, creating something like a second layer of contrast beyond just the fragmentations. Without a doubt Kaneko’s work inhabits everything to absorb the spectator and leaving an intrinsic impression. Make sure to catch his show when in Tokyo.
I deal with identity, the identity of a void. A void identity. I aim for a sense of error, a slight confusion, an interval of vacuity in both symbolic and technical ways.
Born and currently based in Tokyo again, with many years of living in the United States in between, Ei Kaneko is best known for his distinctive graphite drawings full of collage elements. The motifs (often being people and animals) which are edited by him, are found on the internet, from magazines and other mediums surrounding him. Next to his free work, and mostly focusing on craftsmanship, the Japanese artist also creates small edition zines, which together form a complete body of representing his vision as an artist. In a very interesting interview with Art is Alive some years ago Kaneko states about his inspirations in life:
Visual inspiration is [my] number one. I see very clearly. My eyes have led me through life so far. Either that or I follow my eyes. Obviously photography is huge, and film. I also look at a lot of what fashion stylists and curators do. I think the essence of what they do connect to a new form of art and creation in this age of advancing technology. Art collections are inspiring as well. A familiar Warhol can seem like an entirely new painting in certain collections.
When in Tokyo make sure to catch the show at CE&G before it closes March 28. Clear Edition & Gallery is located on the 2nd Floor of 7-18-8 Roppongi, Minatoku, Tokyo.
For more information and work by Ei Kaneko see here.