The Griffin Gallery is a new exhibition space in the Studio Building in West London with sixty metres of white wall space and an adjoining tea room. I went there this week to take a look at their latest show, featuring three new Japanese artists, the winner and runners-up of the 2012 Japanese Liquitex Art Prize.
Liquitex are manufacturers of acrylic paint who have a large outreach programme to encourage new artists. The Japanese Liquitex prize is an open competition established with the objective of promoting the next generation of artists. Works are initially shown at an art fair, then made available online for the public to vote for their favourites. The final winner is selected by a team of judges.
The 2012 winner was Ayano Honda, who graduated from Musashino Art University in 2011. She shows a number of installations, in which her aim is to enclose and expose the space within.
Her paintings are bold, colourful abstracts which she describes as looking at the limit between the genuine and the imitation.
Runner-up Tessan Watabe is the most established of the three artists, having had a number of solo exhibitions at the Trinity Gallery in Tokyo. All his works are pictures of dreams he has had, like this one, The dream I had in February 2012, captioned ‘It was a dream that a big green caterpillar hung on my arm and I shook it off from the window’.
Or this, The dream I had in December 2012, captioned ‘Living near mini theatre, watch movie. Watching the movie some casting who is close my life appeared. It was a dream the next morning when I saw the movie riding the bicycle, thinking about it.’
Watabe’s aim is to provide the viewer with a perspective on daily activities, using colour and stylised forms to give a cartoon-esque quality so that these mundane experiences are not quite what they seem.
Runner-up Makiko Satake is the youngest of the three and is still a student at Musashino Art University, but her work is probably the most interesting from a western perspective because of the way it draws on traditional Japanese art techniques.
Satake uses a technique based on lacquerwork but using acrylic paint instead, where layers of paint are built up and then cut away to reveal the design underneath.
Satake comes from Miyage Prefecture, and some of her work depicts the devastation after the Tohoku earthquake struck.
As part of her exhibit she has built and decorated a coffin for a friend whose body was never found.
The Griffin Gallery is a few minutes walk from Latimer Road tube station. It’s open Monday – Thursday, 10.00am to 5.00pm, Friday, 10.00am to 4.00pm. The exhibition continues until 11 October and all the works are for sale at reasonable prices.