In Yu Nishimura’s first exhibition at the gallery, which is also his first exhibition in Europe, thereare thirteen paintings, all produced in 2020. The smallest one,Arts and Crafts measures 27.3 × 22 cm,and the largestThicket, 259 × 182 cm. What immediately comes across is an effect of superimpositionof several layers, which provokes a slight misalignment. This shift that occurs in his painting(literally) blurs the frontiers between realism (related to photographic mimesis) and abstraction(the universe inherent to an image), between the foreground and the background, and between thedifferent points of view from which the spectator looks at the painting. Though we are looking at fatpieces, hung on the wall, the space in the centre is not empty; it is animated by what is at work in thepaintings and between the paintings. The demarcation zone between the inside and the outside ishere intentionally ambiguous.
Talking about his painting, he wrote: “It is an entrance; I cannot move forward unless a dog is morethan a dog, or a cat is more than a cat.” An entrance is a starting point, the place where an actionbegins. In the theatre, it is also the moment when an actor enters the stage. When Nishimura isasked about his pictorial influences, he cites Takuma Nakahira, the Japanese photographer andphotographic critic (1938-2005), who wrote the radically revolutionary bookFor a Languageto Come,which contains, without any logic, a succession of blurred cityscapes, fragments of streets andpassers-by. He defines his style as are, bure, boke (raw, blurred, unfocused).
It may be remembered that a convention in Japanese painting, at least until the 17th century, wasa form of perspective called “bird fight”, in other words from on high and slightly diagonally. Thisis the technique offukinaki yatai (literally “roofless”). Houses without roofs were painted so as tomake visible what was happening inside. This implies ambiguous compositions between the interiorand the exterior, and between the foreground and the background. Progressively, under westerninfluence, central (linear) perspective gained ground, while in western painting “Japanism” abolishedany fixed point of view, which gave the spectator a “face-on” position to the canvas. And it alsoabolished the background. For Nishimura, this synthesis is disturbing, and it emphasises the effectof empathy which is brought into play, with these landscapes, animals and portraits. Because hehas also associated the history of perspectives, like any individual in our digital age, with an imagein motion. Perhaps he is putting us on the track of a “post-image”, so that we cannot know if ittriggers in us a depiction, a memory, an appearance or a disappearance. The title of Yu Nishimura’sexhibition isScene of Beholder. It is also a promise of his pictorial narrative.