Otani Workshop

29 Oct 2020 – 24 Dec 2020

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

Galerie Perrotin New York

New York
New York, United States


Save Event: Otani Workshop

I've seen this

People who have saved this event:




Perrotin New York is pleased to present Narubekunaranare Narazarumonarubekenya Narareccho (Be if you can, even if you don’t have to be, let it be), a presentation of new works by Japanese artist Otani Workshop on view from October 29th through December 24th. Marking the artist’s first exhibition in New York, this body of work serves as a potent introduction to Otani Workshop, and includes a new body of distinctive paintings and bronze sculptures, as well as nearly 150 new ceramics. The works oscillate between figuration and abstraction in order to reimagine the most traditional of art forms. Japan’s culture of ceramic-making, among the oldest on the globe, dates back nearly 15,000 years. Working from his remote rural home and studio in Shigaraki—an epicenter of Japanese ceramic-making for over 800 years—until 2017 and now operating out of a former ceramic roof tile factory on the island of Awaji, Otani Workshop draws upon ancient techniques while simultaneously managing to improvise and experiment with inventive ways of shaping, firing, and glazing. This respect for historical methods from which he deftly borrows and selectively deviates from defines a world unto its own. His is a universe teeming with associations to history but one that also conjures aspects of contemporary pop culture, personal memories, and lived experiences. His wide-ranging objects span clay jars to large-scale bronze sculptures, and often combine found materials, such as iron and wooden pallets. He incorporates discarded materials and objects— abandoned doors, boxes—into his scenographic installations. These customized displays, especially conceived for each presentation of his work, are a pillar of his practice. Expressions of materiality dominate the discourse of postwar avant-garde Japanese art. The 1956 manifesto by Yoshihara Jiro, leader of the Gutai movement, advocated for art that “imparts life to matter.” Extending this lineage into the present day, Otani Workshop brings life to his art, true to his creed that “all things have a spirit.” The characters he enlivens in his sculptures, fashioned from clay and sculpted from the earth, seem to produce an enigmatic representation between real and pictorial space. A series of new paintings presented here, which the artist created over the past year, employs similar methods. In his paintings and sculptures alike, narratives emerge from a single, haunting image. Following free associations and stream of consciousness, the artist creates works that commingle fact and fantasy, establishing semi-fictionalized scenarios that rearticulate the gallery into an imaginary yet strangely familiar space inhabited by these other presences. To experience art by Otani Workshop is akin to finding oneself in a hypnagogic state where you are caught somewhere between daydream and reality. Left: Otani Workshop. Daughter, 2020. Ceramic. 20 x 36.5 x 26.5 cm | 7 7/8 x 14 3/8 x 10 7/16 in ©2020 Otani Workshop/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Right: Otani Workshop. At the beach, 2020. Acrylic on board. 80.8 x 64.6 cm | 31 13/16 x 25 7/16 in ©2020 Otani Workshop/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. More information about the artist PRESS CONTACTS Caitlin Merrell, Perrotin New York caitlinmerrell@perrotin.com Katherine Wisniewski, Perrotin New York katherinewisniewski@perrotin.com For the title of his presentation at Perrotin New York, Otani Workshop chose なるべくならなれ ならざるもなるべけんや なられっちょ (‘Narubekunaranare Narazarumonarubekenya Narareccho’). The phrase, which is a magic spell borrowed from a picture book the artist read as a child, translates to “Be if you can, even if you don’t have to be, let it be.” In the story, the child protagonist uses the spell to metamorphose into a raccoon. The title’s selection for this exhibition reinforces the transformative quality of banal materials into artworks in a manner that both admits their humble nature and respects it as the artist’s aesthetic pursuit. Otani Workshop’s creations originate from overcoming personal struggles for self-expression. The faces and figures in his paintings and sculptures embody a naiveté born from unfiltered emotions and actions. They are depictions of the artist’s internal realm, involving intuition as much as refined technical skill. Observing the art, one senses that each work demands absorption. After full contemplation, it becomes apparent the artist has invested his seemingly objective characters with nuanced subjectivity. His approach is also reminiscent of the directness of children’s art, a quality emphasized by the simplistic formal language and childish features of his subjects, which are themselves imbued with a brazen vulnerability. Their softened, amorphous silhouettes and crude features—the enlarged heads of his bronze pieces in particular—almost demand empathy, underscoring the emotionality in this art. 

Exhibiting artists

Otani Workshop


Have you been to this event? Share your insights and give it a review below.