By Laura Shen
Live in a functionless room combining kitchen and storage. Enjoy funny jokes played by ghost. Don’t forget to discover a milk white realm, not to mention wandering in kaleidoscope. What’s more, you will find your familiar city Singapore is actually a collage formed by manga. The moment you step into Endless, Nameless (Constructions), you will enter the magic world created by Teppei Kaneuji, the contemporary Japanese artist. This solo exhibition released his latest artistic presentation in collaboration with Singapore Tyler Print Institute. Since 2013, Teppei Kaneuji has created series of artworks including Games, Dance and the Constructions, Ghost Building, and Ghost in the Liquid Room. From color vacuum to colour boom, overcoming the border between dimensions, Teppei Kaneuji’s works inspire you to rethink what dimension means and what if there is a chance to reestablish a new world order.
Clash between Kitchen and Storage
Following previous works White Discharge and Blank Map, Games, Dance and the Constructions is Teppei Kaneuji’s new exploration of the white colour. He utilized thick paper, plywood and soft toys to reinterpret the ordinary items in everyday life, through which Teppei Kaneuji both deconstructed and reconstructed space, dimension and world.
Here is a delicious kitchen, with steamy hot pot, ketchup, ribs, bread, chicken, and the broken cream jar. There is a waste storage, with pushpins, screws, hammers, metal plates, gas tanks, pipes, and also sitting WC pan. Suddenly, items in the two rooms are detached from their individual space and pushed into the same third space where they meet and mix. Cold steel coexists with warm food, they are relocated and rearranged following a new order, and a new world is formed.
When the former separated rooms are recorded on paper, wood and cotton with the same white colour, a third world full of cartoon vision, humour and imagination is therefore constructed. Kitchen without appetite, storage without tools, rooms have divorced with their instrumental functions, but only exist visually. When function is surpassed, nature revives. The white space reminds its visitors of the unlimited, borderless world where people freely play games and dance.
From Colour Vacuum to Colour Boom
Following the white exploration, Teppei Kaneuji pushed the kitchen-storage blending space into palette. Poured by abundant pigments, the former white items are bombarded with pink, lemon, indigo, turmeric, emerald and scarlet. The artist didn’t follow the objective colour rule, but created a new repertoire. The normal sequence turns to be accidental and coincidental substance. Beyond common sense, it is a world filled by green ribs, pink pins, indigo rice and scarlet pipes constructed on mirror, acrylic and textile.
Through the installation mirrors hung on wall, you can see your face intersected with trumpet, steam, beer and cigarette, hinting the hypothesis that you are already a member of this beautiful new world instead of a passer-by. Turning back, you will see another exquisite acrylic new world flashing and glittering. The two-dimensional items hung on the wall come down to this glass box to be their three-dimensional selves, panoramically standing and reclining like the residents of a crystal castle. Finally, Kaneuji posted fan, rubbish bin, perfume bottle and stain onto a Batik print textile. The pieces that have no existing relationship are reconstructed into a weird but exciting new universe. Inside tradition, there is a Bad Boy.
Normality and Coincidence in Singapore
HDB, Haw Par Villa and Durians. Teppei Kaneuji was so intrigued by the Singaporean local landscape that in 2014, he led 6-week workshop collaboration with Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) to create Games, Dance and the Constructions (Singapore) to reflect its flavour. To him, Singapore exemplified the “collage”. “Multi-cultures are blended together like chaos and order in one place. I was very much drawn to that, and I was particularly influenced by the shape, colours and spaces of How Par Villa,” says Kaneuji. “I saw the collaboration with STPI as an extension of collage too. Sharing ideas and working together regardless of language and culture-this is deeply tied to that concept.”
Built by Aw Boon Haw, the Burmese Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for introducing Tiger Balm, Haw Par Villa contains sculptures and constructions fulfilled by rich Chinese cultural marrows. Housing and Development Board (HDB) is the most prevalent residence halls in Singapore accommodating 80% population. Kaneuji first used camera to record the local scenery, then posted manga daily items onto the photos, regarding the photography as an imagined space where different little items were creatively located in different positions: imagine the mountain as a bedroom with radio, watch and toothbrush; build pyramid onto durians; put up steelyard at the garden centre; a piece of wood drifting in the sky. A fantastic cartoon world freely plays and dances on the surface of Singapore’s reality. Plain life becomes incredible magic in the eyes of child.
Let’s Play a Joke with Ghost
As the main theme of traditional Japanese art, ghost and spirit is still active in today’s contemporary art. Ghost Building, Ghost in the Liquid Room, and Endless, Nameless (Constructions) seem to be horror films, but conversely bright humours instead.
The artist applied colour paper, wrapper, calendar and poster to make collages consist of desk cloth, coffee, flowers, fruits and pets. Under the mirror reflection, a single scene demonstrates diverse presentations from different perspectives, generating the speculation that there is a ghost frequently changing the face. White and coloured reliefs pierced on marine plywood tend to be charming ghost shadow. Using watercolour pen to draw randomly like a naïve child, Kaneuji managed his works to look innocent. The happy light music played in the gallery sounds either as Japanese cartoon movie soundtrack or the disc broadcasted in Uniqlo and Muji. Ghost is no longer horrible, but turns to participate in the modern everyday life owning to these absurd while enjoyable works and atmosphere. Friendly to ghost, Kaneuji invited it to co-create artworks together. Fear, terror and death buried in sub consciousness could have been jokes, joy and play. There seems to be an intangible happy apparition inside Kaneuji’s art.
With the influence of “Superflat Generation” Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Aya Takano, and Shitaro Miyake, Teppei Kaneuji’s artworks embody manga, cartoon and childish perspective. On the other hand, he contains creativity, individuality, love of sharing and connecting which are the characteristics of the “Real Baby Boomer Junior Generation” proposed by Japanese sociologist Miura Atsushi. Full of values of network and equality, Teppei Kaneuji’s art possesses ideals of breaking limits and reestablishing world new order. His art generates incentives to encourage unrelated universes to mobilize and renegotiate. He restores primordial nature while avoids fission, breaks taboos while hinders rebellion. He is apocalyptic as well as futurism, expects crisis and uncertainty, while maintains purity, joy, particularly sharing and communicating. This is not blindly positive, but lens refracting social maturity.
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