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Music Is. Music Exists.

Keisuke Watanabe 

​21 July - 23 August 2020

After a long quarantine we are delighted to reopen the gallery with the exhibition of a Japanese painter Keisuke Watanabe Music Is. Music Exists. The presentation is composed of exciting and often ironic sketches, scrolls and picture books with naked bodies. Especially now when the world has just endured the coronavirus pandemic, everyone felt the fragility and vulnerability of the human body, realizing its defenselessness. Emphatically theatrical scenery in Watanabe's works are well correlated with the feeling of a surreal tragedy played out around us. 

    Though naked bodies in brazen and seductive poses may be perceived as provocative, the sexual appeal to senses through these unclothed figures with their palpable corporality and alluring human forms is not the main message of pictures. The voyeuristic pleasure here is subordinate to the ironic logic of representation.  

    The manner in which the body is offered eliminates the distance between the picture plane and a viewer, inviting us to get sensually closer to the image. Such presentational manner could suggest intervention into the inner space of work as if forcing the picture to move, its features to become live and body parts to go into action. Pictorial evolves toward theatrical. The action takes place within the encoded space of the theater, and in mockery of theatrical scenery.

    The power of Watanabe’s creative expression resides in his confidence in the direct effect of seeing and feeling. The artist does not cling to symbolic signs. On the contrary, the body is defined by its plastic outlines and is treated literally. Literality here is what eludes a metaphor. With extraordinary lightness and immediacy the artist conjures all the various nuances of the body and details of clothes whether it is hair, convolution of a lace, a glove or a finger. 

    The artist always works with a live model sketching them in real time. Being a professional musician, Watanabe perceives painting through his musical experience. His art is born from the classical music and develops under its constant influence. Temporality is reflected in spatial. The artist creates his works spontaneously, in a quick tempo, while realizing action he has time to capture the energy of movement and those various expressions and all those attitudes of models. The moment itself with its own texture and singular sensations leaves its mark on the sheet of paper.

    Sophisticated Japanese pictorial technique facilitates the naturalism: the corporality of bodies is produced by sensitive smoky shades of black ink and the extraordinary lightness of his line. Economy of line and aesthetic austerity are stunning. His art works may be regarded as an epitome of refined sensuality and elegant simplicity, the distinctive features of Japanese aesthetic discourse.

    The artist obtained a major part of his aesthetic experience in Oskar Kokoschka’s academy in Salzburg, where he studied for several months. This had some impact on his paintings of nudes adding them European intercultural flair. In 2009 Watanabe was invited to draw Pina Bausch Dance Troupe rehearsal of “The Rite of Spring”. This series of sketches, arranged in a traditional Japanese style book, is also on display.

Music Is
Hundred Days
Off the Stage
Off the Stage II

 Keisuke Watanabe lives and works in Kyoto, Japan. A master draughtsman is well known for his erotic drawings which look to portray the energy of his models through dynamic bodily movement. The artists’ work explore passages of time, revealed in the intuitively selected moment.

 Being a professional musician, Watanabe perceives painting through his musical experience. Music is a temporal art and the artist conceives painting in the same way. His art is born from classical music and develops under its constant influence. His wish to explore the different states of the human body in motion, its sensual appeal is satisfied by extemporaneous sketching on the spot. The artist always works with a live model and creates his paintings in a quick tempo, as if catching the thought in the air. Therefore, in the drawings we see usually a pure experience, sensation unclouded by temporary optics. He creates works in expressionist manner using quick, sensitive lines, favoring blank backgrounds. These works are an exciting example of the effortless virtuosity and a great sense of elegance.

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