Gods of Japan  by Toyohiko Nishijima

Gods of Japan by Toyohiko Nishijima

Exhibition Dates: December 1 – 12, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday December 10, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Location: Onishi Project, 521 W. 26th Street, New York City
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.



Onishi Project is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by Nishijima Toyohiko. Working with various traditional media, including lacquer, washi paper, and natural mineral pigments, the artist is deeply inspired by the pastoral area surrounding his studio and the ancient beliefs of Japan. From ancient times, Japanese people have believed that various spirits, called kami, surround us and reside in the trees, rivers, mountains, wind, and stars. It is these beliefs that have inspired the works on view.


In an effort to breathe life into the invisible faces of the gods of Japan, Nishijima has created various techniques. First, he begins the work by creating the lacquer ground. To create a stable base requires the application on fifteen coats of lacquer. After creating the initial base, the artist polishes and repeats the process roughly twenty more times in order to create a uniform finish. The lacquer must then harden, a process that depends heavily on temperature and humidity. He therefore views Nature as a key element, alongside his own skills and time, to the creation of his paintings.


The next stage is the creation of the washi paper, which the artist makes by hand. Using his own techniques to create this paper, which can be as thin as 0.03mm, he creates the face of each god by carefully shaping the paper in layers. He then applies natural mineral pigments to complete each painting. As he works, he meditates on quintessentially Japanese ideas about Nature, hoping to harness the energy of the trees from which his key materials, lacquer and washi paper, are derived.


For more information, please contact Anna Pillow at 212.695.8035 or apillow@onishiproject.com

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