Takao MINAMI: Takao Minami


Opening reception in the presence of the artist:
Friday, 14 March 2014 19.00 - 21.00

Ota Fine Arts is pleased to announce the solo exhibition of Takao Minami, his debut in Singapore. The exhibition will feature the artist's new work, including both double and single-channel video installations, as well as a sculptural installation incorporating the light of a flame and shadow.

From site-specific installation to video, Minami's work always explores the fundamental elements involved in audio-visual technologies, namely light, colour and sound. This self-reflexivity about the mechanics of video production is rendered with tight attention to composition, the tensions between abstraction and figuration, and the manifold qualities of light itself.

Projected light is conceived as something so basic -- even primitive -- as the raw light of a flame thrown onto a wall by a magnifying glass. In Fire Symbol, the words for 'fire' in ancient writing systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, or the Dongba pictograms of the Nakhi people in southern China, are engraved onto the surface of the glass. Although the wick of the candle produces a deceptively simple projective installation, through it Minami illustrates the dual nature of light in our media-saturated world: light as symbol and light as phenomena.

And phenomena is abstracted, and refracted in ever-varying ways, both by the flickering light of the flame and the flashes of core video light in kishi no eizoQuiet Hole and Difference Between. For Minami, colour is derived from the '8-Bit Era' of retro video games, and these early television and video colour bars inform his choice of palette. His single-channel works kishi no eizo and Quiet Hole are assemblages of neon light, reducing spliced landscapes, stenciled silhouettes of foliage, miniature humans, and other indiscernible shapes to vivid, essential hues. Difference Between is even further pared down to a highly saturated dichromatic schema so that the moving image is balanced between parallel elements -- blue water and a bright white sky. The effect additionally fragments hitherto recognisable elements of Minami's landscapes: waves upon a shore, a palm tree and a traditional Malay house are reduced to their bare outlines.

These digital collages, arranged through a "process... closer to composition in painting than film editing"^, can also be viewed as inheriting their longitudinal format from traditional Japanese and Chinese hanging scroll paintings of mountainous landscapes and waterfalls. In fact, the slow, seamless downward pan encourages a more contemplative eye than the speed associated with most new media. It almost reminds one to dwell upon the immaterial, abstract space between 'heaven' and 'earth'. But whatever this nether, virtual space truly is within our contemporary digital reality -- between the bars of a television monitor or the pixels of a high-definition video projection -- still remains a question unanswered.

Nevertheless, Takao Minami's work is ultimately grounded in the real. His footage is extracted and edited from videologues of his recent journeys between Bangkok and Singapore. Further, while on the road, Minami's heightened attentiveness brings his audience through the everyday soundscapes of Southeast Asia.

This season, we invite viewers to discover the unique and sensitive video compositions, projections and reflections Takao Minami has created for his solo presentation at Ota Fine Arts Singapore.

^Takao Minami, edited by Thomas Boutoux, Nicolas Garait, Danielle Kvaran, Gunnar B. Kvaran, Kit Maude, Thierry Raspail (Dijon: Les presses du réel), catalogue of an exhibition at La Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, 12 September, 2013 through 5 January, 2014, 342-345.

About Takao Minami
Born in Osaka, Japan in 1976, Takao Minami graduated in new media art at the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences in Gifu and is now based in Paris. His creative works are an investigation into his immediate environment, which is presented to his viewers through audio-visual material, computer graphics, animation and installation work. In addition, he has undertaken work involved with scenic design for dance performances. Minami's recent notable solo exhibitions have been held at the Mito Contemporary Art Center (2010) and the Goethe-Institute in Hanoi (2009), and group exhibitions include the 12th Biennale de Lyon (2013), Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art (2011) and the Yokohama Triennial (2005).

Installation Views