Keiichi Tanaami | Memorial Reconstruction

NANZUKA is pleased to present “Memorial Reconstruction,” a solo exhibition of new works by Keiichi Tanaami. The special exhibition will be held concurrently at NANZUKA and NANZUKA 2G (2G, Shibuya Parco 2F). In recent years Tanaami has engaged in creating a spectacular narrative that directly draw inspiration from his own memories and dreams. Efforts to give form to the non-visual world, as represented by surrealism that attempted to express the subconscious, is that which has been endeavored by numerous art movements and artists to date. However, Tanaami’s interests are not limited to dealing with unitary memories and dreams. Citing the theory from American psychologist John Kotre’s book “White Gloves” (1997) which describes “people subconsciously reconstructing their memories as they live,” Tanaami continues to study the manner by which his memories constantly transform like some living thing and serve to influence his work. In his publication Dream on Dreamer (2017), which contains excerpts of his 40-year dream diary, it is possible to observe a glimpse of the enigma of Tanaami’s artistic practice that attempts to objectively capture images within his own brain through efforts to transcribe his dreams into a form of visual language. “Memorial Reconstruction” is an exhibition series that serve as a visual metaphor of Tanaami’s own memories of experiencing the war as a child, as well as the mechanisms of his artistic practice. The exhibition introduces a variety of new works including three-dimensional works that resemble a miniature garden, as well as a selection of masterpiece collage works and mixed media paintings. At first glance, Tanaami’s recent works appear like uncanny yet pop renditions of Yokai-ga (traditional paintings of supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons in Japanese folklore), however what is depicted are various memories that were reconstructed based on Tanaami’s actual experiences, at times using dreams as a medium. For example, in Tanaami’s new paintings, the American comic strip Nancy, first conceived by Ernie Bushmiller in 1938 and also popular in Japan due to being introduced in the Asahi Shimbun after the war, and Japan’s leading special effects hero Ultraman, which was first broadcast in 1966, are depicted together with scenes reminiscent of wartime bombings that Tanaami recollects, as well as his various bizarre and distorted creatures. In addition, in the large-scale collage works that he continues to actively produce in parallel to his paintings, it is possible to discern images of American comics taken from mid-20th century American magazines that Tanaami was familiar with in his youth, and also the appearance of Hollywood actresses from years gone by. The reason why Tanaami’s work has been re-recognized in recent years as being extremely important in the context of art discourse, is not limited to the pop art nature of his work in which he uses distinctive comic-style depictions as a weapon for expression. It is because Tanaami’s works, whether they are personally produced or a commercial work for magazines or posters, all paint a picture of the social and cultural history of the postwar world with Japan as a filter.

Keiichi Tanaami
Keiichi Tanaami Memorial Reconstruction

Photo by :

Installation view
Keiichi Tanaami solo exhibition Memorial Reconstruction NANZUKA, Tokyo, 2020 ©Keiichi Tanaami Courtesy of NANZUKA