From June 6th to July 13th, Yutaka Kikutake Gallery presents “For Want of a nail” an exhibition of works by artist duo Nerhol.
Nerhol is artist duo consisted of two young Japanese artists Yoshihisa Tanaka and Ryuta Iida. It has been started since 2007, after Tanaka and Iida discussed about how they should bring up and share a problem in the contemporary society.
At Yutaka Kikutake Gallery this time, they exhibit the works inspired from a city ‘Beppu’, Oita Prefecture. Last summer, Nerhol participated residency program called “KASHIMA” held in Beppu. During the program, Nerhol had researched the history of Beppu where famous for Japanese hot spring resort and also its history since the early Meiji period and through the World WarⅠand WarⅡ.
Nerhol’s research contains a variety from an oral history of the people living in Beppu to local resource of the hot spring and the natural environment with cultural aspects which have been developed along with history.
The research turned into 13 works and were presented at Aoi House where they resided during their stay and Beppu Park and the walls of different commercial facilities as well. For the exhibition at Yutaka Kikutake Gallery in Tokyo, they also present new works which devised as the above project for Tokyo. New woks are also based on the former research from the residency.
The interesting feature on their works is containing respective stories. Such as ‘Portrait of Mr. Kim’ was made from an inspiration based on the conversation with the local people, Mr. Kim. The behind story of ‘Portrait of Mr. Kim’ is below. Nerhol was told a story about the people who fought as soldiers during the Korean War and how they had opened up Korean Barbeque shops after returning to Japan and stories concerning the lives of Korean-Japanese who had immigrated to Japan after the Second World WarⅡ. The work was born after Nerhol listened a Korean-Japanese immigrants who became local people in there now which reminds us history and lives of people who have got various background.
Also ‘Wild Guppy’ and ‘Metronome’ were inspired by stories and experience from Animals in Beppu. After Nerhol had heard stories of tropical fish inhabiting the rivers of Beppu and they tried to look for guppies in the downstream of Sakai River, and did found. Guppies had become a local fish even if they were originally from South America. Due to the adaptation to environmental change, guppies had turned into an appearance look like killifish but they were still keeping their vivid color on stomachs which is distinctive feature as a tropical fish. Furthermore, Nerhol combines a personal experience with memory about local animals through ‘Metronome’. When Nerhol went to see the wild monkeys living in Mount Takasaki where more than 1,200 monkeys are live in, Nerhol saw a parental monkey spent weeks carrying and holding its child even after the child have died. This behavior was due to being unable to accept the situation. On the way back home, Nerhol listened quiet sound of a metronome that he had set to the same rhythm of a monkey’s heartbeat while reminding the monkey’s behavior.
Those stories behind art works make us to think about lives and death, identities and the adaptation to environmental change, brings up a question in mind like ‘what is originality’. Nerhol finds questions from area, nature, animals, people which can be easily overlooked object but Nerhol has been focusing on these respective motifs. Not only the stories, but also the works made of engraved and layered Print give us opportunity to take a visual voyage. Yutaka Kikutake Gallery has been representing Nerhol’s exhibitions since 2016 the exhibition “Strange Attractor”. As focusing on motifs surrounded by our lives and bringing up a question upon society is regarded as an important issue in contemporary art, Nerhol’s work with respective motifs, ingenious experience and research-based will still be expected to be present with Yutaka Kikutake Gallery in the future as well.
Article written by Jeongeun Jo
Jeongeun Jo is from Korea now living in Japan. She is one of the member of TRiCERA who graduated from Graduate School of Fine Arts at Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA/ Geidai). She is also working as an artist herself .