Art Fair New York 2017

Playful Perfection: The Artist’s Imaginary Universe
NAOYA | Shun Sudo | Ito Sekisui V | Tomoko Konno

Onishi Gallery at Art New York
Pier 94, New York City
May 3 – 7, 2017

Group Show
Onishi Gallery, 521 W 26th Street, New York City
April 27 – May 31, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, May 5, 6-9pm

“Playful Perfection: The Artist’s Imaginary Universe”

NAOYA | Shun Sudo | Ito Sekisui V | Tomoko Konno

Onishi Gallery is honored to present “Playful Perfection: The Artist’s Imaginary Universe,” a special exhibition of Art New York 2017. Art New York is a sister fair to Art Miami, a prominent art producer of leading contemporary modern art fairs. This third edition of the fair based in Manhattan attracts an international slate of artists and publics and introduces creators, collectors, curators, and art appreciators to share traditions and exchange ideas around new concepts of contemporary art.

Onishi Gallery aims to bring leading contemporary artists and the trends from Japan to the international art market, presenting them in modern Western contexts. In this exhibition, “Playful Perfection: The Artist’s Imaginary Universe,” four contemporary Japanese artists explore visions of their perfect universes by drawing upon dreamlike imagery that evokes their inner worlds. They achieve flawless precision in their creative techniques but allow for spirited features of their designs to create unexpected play within perfection.

NAOYA (b. 1958) began his artistic career in Japan by assisting his father, Nagae Rokuya, a major figurative sculptor who worked in wood. Nurturing his creativity in this familial context, NAOYA soon cultivated his own style and creative concepts, shaping representational figures that express his own philosophical worldview, while still working in wood. NAOYA populates the imaginary world that he designs, which he calls POLY KANTEN, with fairy-like children, animals with human personalities, and animistic goddesses. The creatures are all related, he says, although each one has its own reason for being. The monochromatic figures, painted entirely in white, silver, and bronze, stare at viewers with curious and blank expressions, begging for questions about the fantastical worlds they inhabit. Believing in the possibility and potential of multiple universes, NAOYA creates these characters from another world to visit with us here on Earth.

Shun Sudo (b. 1977), based in Tokyo, has been deeply influenced by American pop culture from a young age and has spent his 20s travelling around the United States. When he returned home to Japan in his early 30s, he began working on paintings that reference his creative roots both in Japanese culture and the contemporary street culture of Western life. As a result, Sudo developed two artistic styles that reflect the two different aspects of his personality. His primary aim is to capture his subject matter in a few stylized brushstrokes—otherwise known as Japanese sumi-e brush stroke painting. He then paints over that image with graffiti pop art which makes for a graphically-animated impression that awakens the eyes, mind, and spirit. In his current series “Innocent Forest,” which contains Sudo’s creations of imaginary animals, rabbit, elephant and deer looking, which wander around the mysterious forest – he projects those animals as himself and the forest as the United States when he traveled at his younger ages.

Ito Sekisui V (b. 1941) is a 14th generation ceramic potter, recognized in 2003 by the government of Japan as a “Living National Treasure” for his ceramic work in mumyōi. Mumyōi is a reddish brown clay extracted from the gold mines native to Sado Island in Niigata prefecture, where Ito was born. Ito spent years experimenting with mumyōi to create his signature aesthetic—black on red. This unique material and visual aesthetic are highlighted by Ito’s mastery of neriage, a type of earthen ware characterized by delicate patterns created through the layering and patching together of different reddish brown-toned clays. To bring out the vibrancy of the red, Ito does not apply glaze, but rather, uses different flame streams inside a wood-fired kiln—a rare firing technique called yōhen. Ito’s lifelong ceramic experience and his creative ingenuity within traditional methods of mumyōi production, single him out as a visionary ceramist and leading artist in Japan. Ito’s work has been included in many of important public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan. His contributions to the history and growing tradition of Japanese ceramic arts in the United States is large for the ceramic world in Japan where he comes from.

Tomoko Konno (b. 1967) lives in the ancient pottery town of Tokoname while maintaining a studio in Bali, Indonesia. In her Bali workshop, art forms resemble exotic plants or sea creatures made in colored porcelain that she exhibits in her installation shows. Konno says that she wishes to express the power of living things and that her ideas “just seem to materialize from nowhere.” Konno is one of a prominent new generation of female ceramicists working in Japan today. The distinct features in her work are the fresh colors, meticulous detailing, and the dynamic flow created with the nerikomi technique. Konno is partial to the nerikomi technique, which she feels is akin to painting with clay in which the medium itself becomes an instrument for painting. She prefers this technique to using brushes for embellishing surfaces, feeling that the lines created by nerikomi are more natural and allow Konno to express her energy and zest for life. Through use of this technique, Konno realizes the flower looking creatures, making them appear more realistic and imaginative and drawing viewers into her mysterious flower garden. While participating in a number of international residency programs, Konno’s work has been housed at collectors’ homes internationally, and a number of museum collections including the Detroit Institute of Arts and Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum, Japan.

For more information on the exhibitions, contact Nana Onishi at 212-695-8035, or by email at Or, please visit the gallery website at



Shun Sudo (b. 1977), INNOCENT FOREST 01, 2017, acrylic on canvas, h. 63 x w. 102 in. (160 x 260 cm)

NAOYA (b. 1958), PEPO #1.2.1., 2014, FRP, h. 33 x w. 17 1/2 x d. 16 3/4 in. (83.6 x 44.2 x 42 cm)

Ito Sekisui V (b. 1941), Living National Treasure,
Sado Island Square Jar, 2016; stoneware; h. 8 5/8 x w. 12 5/8 x d. 9 1/2 in. (22 x 32 x 24 cm)

Tomoko Konno (b. 1967), Creature, 2010, stoneware with nerikomi, h. 21 5/8 x w. 20 1/2 x d. 10 5/8 in. (55 x 52 27 cm)

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