Gazing into the Dark, Touching the Light

2021.5.11 [tue] - 7.24 [sat] 11:00-18:00 (sat -17:00) *Closed on Sun, Mon, holidays.

A consciousness of the light and dark that form the two sides of existence, as well as a kind of “not-getting-across” that is involved therein, underlies the works of four artists Yasue Kodama, Akane Saijo, Yasuyoshi Botan, and Chihiro Yoshioka whose works ARTCOURT Gallery is pleased to present in this exhibition.

Shapes of flowers that seem to almost melt into the sky, overlapping leaves made transparent by sunlight, surfaces of vessels that emit fascinating colors and gloss, and sequences of colors and shapes that foretell a story. Behind them are the things that cannot be seen, empty interiors, fragments that do not correspond with the whole, blanks in one’s memory... Through the beauty of the world of light that the eye can see, these artists’ works take a hard look at that world’s reverse, or the phenomena in the dark that lurk within the workings of recognition, and try to uncover its contours. These pieces, robed in a mysterious transparency, open up the viewer’s sensibilities to the depths of this world.

We hope you direct your attention towards these four artists’ attempts to dig out the “not-getting-across” that cannot be summed up by language or meaning, existing in the narrow gap between light and dark, and touch the essence of existence, “the other light”, emitted from beyond the light and dark in this world today that, while reacquainting us with the transience of life and the everyday, also forces us to overemphasize polarized values and easy comprehensibility.

[ About the artists ]
Mainly working in ceramics, Saijo Akane (b. 1989) focuses on the fiction that lingers around pottery when handled as a “surface” concealing an empty interior space, while at the same time being a very much substantial (real) medium, possessing a definite shape that can be visually admired for their glossiness or color, and texture that can be ascertained by hand. Moreover, Saijo offers a unique worldview in which she incorporates an axis of time into the spatial existence of the vessel by layering invisible elements such as personal stories or others’ history. Here, she endeavors to deepen her sculptural series of works, which she began in 2012, composed of only the “outer skin” of glaze after the removal of the foundation of clay which equates the work’s body. These works of pottery will expand our perception and understanding, as they act as an ambivalent presence that blends together truth and falsehood, space and time, light and dark, while half-exposing the emptiness hidden inside.

Yasuyoshi Botan (b. 1971) converts everyday scenes and things into colors, shapes, and brushstrokes that comprise the language of painting, and by creating a sequence of images while conversing with the connections that tie them together, he weaves a pictorial world full of signs and reverberations of “something”. In recent years, Botan directed his attention to the autonomous workings of color itself, and developed his carpet series (includes Seesaw and Tree owl) that, based on rules of repetition and symmetry, reconstructs the fluid world of color that arises in response to the movement of the gaze or the sense of touch that sharpens in the darkness; as well as his series, a piece of story (includes Annunciation), that affixes motifs directly onto the canvas while still in their delicate state before being translated into a “painting”, by handling the phenomena of the bleeding and dripping of paint as equally valuable as the painted figures. He accumulates these acts of painting, as if chasing after the dim light that gleams inside the eyelids.

Chihiro Yoshioka (b. 1981) mainly paints the sights she has seen in the everyday or on her travels, from roses blooming in a garden or the clothing of saints in icons. She produces paintings based on an approach of using a foundational grid in order to reproduce the appearance and texture of the impression of things she has perceived herself, as is onto the canvas. The gap between reality and perception as well as the blanks in one’s memory that arise through this process, are translated into modest gestures of abbreviating and supplementing, or are left to the silver ground that emits an ambiguous light while the shadows of its surroundings are also cast onto it. By doing so, Yoshioka brings together the elements not entirely within one’s perception on the work’s surface, like the limitless vastness of space and the spirituality that resides within the accumulation of time and actions, then creates a pictorial space where light and darkness intersect. This exhibition will feature new pieces from her muqarnas series, started in 2014, in which she paints autumn leaves shining in the sky, alongside works created with the strappo technique that feature the deep blue starry skies depicted on chapel ceilings as their motif. Yoshioka casts her questions at the phases of painting that furtively transform between the act of painting and the act of seeing.

From delicate still lifes in the 1980s, to abstraction in the 90s, then reaching her style of painting that crossed the borderline between abstraction and realism after the end of the 90s, Yasue Kodama (b. 1961) has been consistently searching for the essence of what it means for things to exist, and as a reflection of that, has been trying to capture “the self that is here, right now” as well as the gaze towards a world that encompasses her subject. This exhibition will feature her ambient light series, from around 2000 when Kodama began to reincorporate figurative motifs from the outside world into her abstract pictorial spaces, and the asile – white splash series, currently in progress in which the artist reaches another turning point in her work after nearly 20 years. The former is a group of works in which the image, or in other words, the light, melts into and emerges out of the darkness, in a multi-layered structure made of the material that is paint. These works may have planted the seeds for Kodama’s representative way of painting where, in the midst of this flickering of light, a hint of some unknowable presence becomes another light, inviting the viewer’s gaze into the depths. The latter series, asile – white splash, in which Kodama paints scenes of great plum trees in full bloom after being uprooted by a storm, gives the impression that the light living within the layers of paint is spilling over into the foreground. This series can be said to capture the artist’s expression of her own firm attitude that confronts the flora that freely express the essence of life hidden within itself, and trying to touch the exposed manifestation of that existence, namely “the other light”, through the act of painting.

Related events

  • 05.15 [sat]
    ◆ Morning Talk (Online Event, RSVP required, In Japanese Only)
    10:00 - 10:50am Akane Saijo & Yasuyoshi Botan
    11:00 - 11:50am Yasue Kodama & Chihiro Yoshioka

    * If you would like to participate, please RSVP by 5:00pm on May 14 (Fri) by emailing
     We will contact you with the URL and further details on how to view the talk.
    * On the same day from around 1:00pm, we will have the artist editions (Limited, 50 copies) of Chihiro Yoshioka’s
     monograph mimesis (published 2018) that include unique drawings by the artist on display and available for
     purchase. For details on the publication ▶︎

    * Duration and events may change or be cancelled depending on the spread of COVID-19.


Yasue Kodama | Akane SaijoYasuyoshi BotanChihiro Yoshioka