19 Aug - 17 Sep

From August 19 to September 17, 2023, Gallery COMMON is pleased to present ‘Index ♯7’, an exhibition by Yukari Nishi in collaboration with artist unit magma. The exhibition will feature 19 new paintings by the artist, as well as a series of sculptural works created in collaboration with magma. This will mark Nishi’s first large-scale exhibition with the gallery since joining the roster in 2022, as well as magma’s first showing with the gallery.
In her scenes based on collages of primarily Western media from the 70s and 80s, Nishi introduces us to a cast of bizarre characters in what looks like the hallucination of a retro American TV show. Humanoid characters with teddy bear faces and hamburger heads inhabit the distinctly foreign homes in Nishi’s world, where faded floral wallpaper, shag carpets, and wide kitchen countertops serve as an exotic contrast to the memories of tatami flooring, zabutons, and torn shoji screens that make up the core of Japan’s collective nostalgia. It is not the familiar Japanese home, but rather the fantastical “happy American home” of media lore that is the setting in which we see the lives of Nishi’s characters unfold.
Before we can ponder further on this setting, however, we quickly realize that these happy homes are not real but ones that exist in a dream dimension– and that “happy” is perhaps not the right word to describe them. Running in the tradition of surrealism, Nishi’s works teeter on the border between whimsical and ominous. In one work, a clock-faced woman and a trio of animal characters cheerfully gather around a halved citrus, undeterred by the ghostly hand that emerges from the table to gently caress a participant. In another, a grimacing daisy covers the eyes of a primly dressed bear-woman while a headless superhero mannequin records the scene, the anticipation— or threat?-- of a surprise hovering just outside of the frame.
Confronted with these cryptic scenarios, our human need for meaning and sense kicks in, and we find ourselves lost in the discomfort of the inexplicable. Over the years, Nishi has come to understand her purposeful journey into this mysterious space as a method of self-analysis. She cites the organic, intuitive act of collaging as the point when the portal to this mysterious space is opened and she can reach catharsis. The process of collecting and re-assembling existing elements is one that has fascinated Nishi since the very start of her career, and this stability in her process has allowed her to ruminate more deeply on the content that her subconscious projects onto the canvas, such that she has likened the process to “collage therapy.” *
From this viewpoint, the paintings become personal psychological portraits that illuminate deeper themes of family, motherhood, parenting, interdependence, responsibility, and the full range of emotions that come with it: claustrophobia and anxiety, joy and elation. “I’ve noticed that my works frequently involve food, pairs of children, people, or animals, and the act of giving/receiving or embracing,” says Nishi. “I feel like you can clearly see the growing influence that my role as a parent has had on my works, and the repetition of limited motifs seems to reflect an increasingly narrow and isolated view of the world, in which both suffocation and euphoria are mixed together.”
Nishi’s natural inclination to express herself through surrealist collages of foreign media offers multiple readings. The romanticized conception of the West as a fantasy dreamland has captured the Japanese imagination for decades, and this attraction to the world of the Other may perhaps represent a larger desire to escape the rules and conventions of one’s own society, particularly one in which the expectations for women and mothers remain conservatively strict. The erasure and covering up of eyes– that is, the removal of surveillance and judgment– is a noticeable recurring motif in Nishi’s works that seems to echo this sentiment.
We see an even further breakdown of norms in the surreality of her scenes. Our expectations are continually subverted; our usual social scripts rendered useless. In departing from reality and voyaging into an alien world, what we may be seeing is the artist’s subconscious attempt at creating a space of freedom in which she can more honestly discover herself.
Accompanying the paintings is a series of sculptural collages made in collaboration with artist unit magma. magma’s works are characterized by their use of discarded secondhand objects and items that they collect daily from their surrounding environment. Inspired by the recurring characters in Nishi's paintings, magma has ingeniously remixed and reinterpreted them into three-dimensional assemblages of freakishly whimsical creatures.
Though magma’s works emit a distinct vintage American flavor, one could say they also represent a very Japanese sensibility that recalls the country’s collector culture, providing a playful compliment to Nishi’s own exploration of Western motifs through a Japanese lens. In reflecting on the similarities between their practices that inspired the collaboration, magma notes that “in this (previous) era before we were born, one which we weren’t able to experience, there existed a sort of openness and hope for the future that we felt was the shared foundation of both of our creations.”
Beneath the surreality and absurdity of both artists’ works lies a sense of playfulness and a fearless curiosity about the mystery of the unknown. In this familiar yet alien world, we must experience the anxiety of the unexplainable in order to discover it’s delight, for as surrealist Rene Magritte says: “The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.”
*Collage therapy is a type of art therapy in which the patient uses collage to express their emotions and provide prompts for self-analysis. Collage therapy is practiced internationally, but acknowledged more widely in Japan due to the country’s emphasis on nonverbal therapies. ■ PROFILE
Yukari Nishi
Born in 1978 in Japan and currently based in Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Nishi’s paintings reference an idealized mid-century Western nostalgia through surreal scenes populated with faceless figures, emotionless plushies, and lifeless animals. Created from collages of mainstream media, Nishi’s works enter a fourth dimension somewhere between reality and fiction, causing us to reconsider our own perceptions of what is real and what is not. After graduating from the Kyoto University of the Arts, Nishi has exhibited her paintings and mixed media works both domestically and abroad. Recent projects include her solo exhibition “Index ♯5” (The Mass, Tokyo); group shows IMAGRATION (Each Modern, Taipei) and Inquiry to the Wall (Tang Contemporary Art x Soul Art Center, Beijing); and Art Fair Tokyo and Taipei Dangdai.
An artist unit composed of Jun Sugiyama and Kenichi Miyazawa. Using waste materials, resin, motor appliances, and various second hand items, magma creates bold sculptural works that combine analog era visuals and crazy colors. Having also expanded into furniture, products, and space direction/installation production, the unit continues to garner attention across industries both domestically and abroad for their unmistakably unique style.

2023年8月19日から9月17日まで、Gallery COMMONは西祐佳里とアーティストユニットmagmaのコラボレーションによる展覧会「Index ♯7」を開催いたします。「Index ♯7」では、西祐佳里の新作ペインティング19点と、西とmagmaのコラボレーションによる立体作品のシリーズを発表します。西は2022年にGallery COMMONに所属して以来、当ギャラリーでの初めての大規模な展覧会となります。また、本展はmagmaのGallery COMMONでの初展示となります。
こうした謎めいた画面に向き合ったとき、意味や理解を求めようとする欲求が働くがために、私たちは説明できないものの不快さと格闘することになります。西はこうした作品制作と付き合い続けているうちに、作品制作それ自体を自己分析の方法として理解するようになりました。西によれば、有機的で直感的なコラージュは謎に満ちた 神秘的な空間への扉が開かれる瞬間を生み出し、そしてそこからカタルシスに到達できると捉えているのです。
海外メディアのイメージをコラージュしシュルレアリスム的に表現する西の作風は、鑑賞者に多様な読解の余地を与えています。例えば、夢の国として理想化された「西洋」は、長いあいだ日本を惹きつけています。この「他者」の世界への憧れは、作家自身の所属する社会――特に女性や母親に対して保守的な期待が厳しく向けられ る社会――の規範や慣習から逃れたいという、より大きな願望を表していると読み取ることもできます。西の作品に繰り返し現れる「目を消す/覆い隠す」というモチーフは、こうした願望に呼応するように、他人からの監視や評価を排除しようとしているようにも見えます。
西祐佳里(にし ゆかり)
1978年生まれ、西宮市在住。西のペインティングを特徴づけるシュールリアリズムの表現は、理想化された20世紀半ばの西洋的なノスタルジーを感じさせるものである。西の作品は彼女の周りのメディアから引き出されたイメージの集合体であり、現実を超えた四次元の世界に入り込むことで、潜在意識を探り、自身の自己内観の再考を迫る。京都芸術大学を卒業後、国内外のギャラリーやアートフェアにて絵画やミクストメディア作品を発表している。近年のプロジェクトにはThe Mass(東京)での個展「Index #5」がある。その他のグループ展やアートフェアには、IMAGRATION (Each Modern、台北)、Inquiry to the Wall (Tang Contemporary Art x Soul Art Center、北京)、Art Fair Tokyo、Taipei Dangdaiなどがある。