New Japanese Artists at the Griffin Gallery

Griffin Gallery - Makiko Satake

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.

Griffin Gallery - Ayano Honda

Her paintings are bold, colourful abstracts which she describes as looking at the limit between the genuine and the imitation.

Griffin Gallery - Ayano Honda

Griffin Gallery - Ayano Honda

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’.

Griffin Gallery - Tessan Watabe

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.’

Griffin Gallery - Tessan Watabe

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.

Griffin Gallery - Tessan Watabe

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.

Griffin Gallery - Makiko Satake

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.

Griffin Gallery - Makiko Satake

Satake comes from Miyage Prefecture, and some of her work depicts the devastation after the Tohoku earthquake struck.

Griffin Gallery - Makiko Satake

As part of her exhibit she has built and decorated a coffin for a friend whose body was never found.

Griffin Gallery - Makiko Satake

Griffin Gallery - Makiko Satake

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.

Griffin Gallery

10 thoughts on “New Japanese Artists at the Griffin Gallery

  1. Tessan Watabe: Forget shaking the caterpillar off his arm, he should get a baseball bat and whack it! That’s a thing of nightmares!

    Makiko Satake’s work is the most interesting for me. You can see the effort that has gone into the creation quite clearly. I wish my gallery would show things like these!

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  2. I always find the juxtaposition of the simple with the complicated in Japanese art fascinating. The use of space and details in the earthquake painting is haunting. I also vote for Satake. Nice post, Fran!

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