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Bodies of Water

Koshiro Akiyama
Curated by Nina de Maria

2 March - 30 April, 2023

- “All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.”

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (1947)

Bodies of Water presents eight new paintings by Koshiro Akiyama in which the artist brings into play recurrent themes of idealistic landscapes. For his first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, Akiyama has created intimate and melancholic works which, unlike his previous production, do not draw from photos and memories but are imagined experiences, imagined memories.

Koshiro Akiyama’s oeuvre is inspired by the expressive and disturbing works of Edward Munch, from whom he has absorbed the potential of constructing illusionistic and dreamlike worlds, but with vibrant, and at times lurid, colours. His artistic philosophy is equally inspired by the writings of Simone Weil, the ‘melancholy revolutionary’, on absence and affliction - a feeling only the souls who are capable of experiencing spiritual joy can really encounter. His contemporary influences range from Dream Pop music to a hint of Yoshitomo Nara.

For Bodies of Water, Akiyama has painted eight timeless and warm images. To the artist painting is a meditative practice where, similarly to his personal life, the aftermath of experiencing a moment of emotional distress is usually a moment of ‘catharsis’. The same happens to the viewers who at first experience a sense of foreboding but then let the paint drag them in and take them through the character’s journey. The sensation one is left with is neither sinister nor comforting, but rather a feeling of transition between the two.

Bodies of water are ever-present in this series, and we can imagine the figures have bathed in them, moved through them, and then have come out washed away from sins, purified. Their bodies remain the same but their souls and their feelings have transformed. Although the figures in his paintings are presented as vulnerable, they also show resilience of the mind. They have experienced a moment of resolution and convey airy and expansive sensations; they are compassionate towards human beings and the nature around them. The viewer’s mind is left to wander, lost in space and time. And the more your mind wanders, the more you can see.

Koshiro Akiyama describes his style as a ‘psychological exploring’, because through colour he translates his most profound emotions towards the world. What he masterfully conveys is a feeling of floating in a whirlwind of melodies, harmonies and dissonances, echoes and reverberations. A sense of hovering weightlessly over these dreamlike scenarios.

Koshiro Akiyama (b.1994, Japan) is a Tokyo-born painter based in London. After receiving a BA and MA in Japanese-style Painting at Tokyo University of the Arts, he graduated from Camberwell College of Arts, MA Fine Art, Painting in 2021. His previous solo exhibition ‘Gravity and Levitation’ was held at Fabien Fryns Gallery, Dubai (2023). Akiyama has exhibited his works in group shows internationally, including ‘Life is a Maze Which We Never Escape’, Daniel Benjamin Gallery, London (2022), ‘Do You Feel Me’, Sapling Gallery, London (2022), ‘London Art Fair’, Rhodes Contemporary Gallery, London (2022), ‘Ichikenten’, Exhibition hall in Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo (2018 and 2019). In 2018 the graduation works of Tokyo University of the Arts have been shown at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan.

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