“Candle Flame・ 9”
Kisho Mwkaiyama (born 1968 in Osaka, currently lives and works in Tokyo) first gained attention for his works using wax and has continued to diversly expand his range of artistic expression, in recent years producing paintings on canvas characterized by their delicately controlled depictions of color.
While he has received high acclaim for the exhibition of his works in traditional Japanese architectural spaces including Nijo Castle in Kyoto and Jorakuji temple in the Kanagawa Prefecture, he is also recognized for his various activities abroad such as his six-month residency in Las Vegas from 2018 to 2019 at the invitation of MGM Resorts International.
“Candle Flame・ 9” is the artist’s seventh solo exhibition at Yutaka Kikutake Gallery, and marks the beginning of his new trilogy “Light of Prayer” following his previous works “Light of the Moon” and “Light of Color.” As well as nine new works with the same title as the exhibition, “Moonveeda” (2023) consisting of nine round canvases coming together to form a single image, and “Maruyulate” (2001) in which subtle changes in faint colors evoke the light of the moon, are also presented on this occasion. The exhibition space, comprised of a mixture of both old and new works, reflect how the artist’s thoughts and ideas have evolved and progressed over the course of his practice.
From paths lined with stone lanterns, to the sublime sight of the sacred Okunoin cemetery shrouded in the morning mist, and monks in moments of prayer―Mwkaiyama spent his childhood in Mount Koya, recognized as one of Japan’s most prominent locations of esoteric Buddhist temples, and as a child had found himself enticed by the tranquil environment of his surroundings and the light of candles that gently illuminated the darkness. His attraction to the material of wax and his series of works that attempt to give appearance to and immobilize light, indeed bear deep ties to such scenes from his childhood that are engraved deep within his mind. Furthermore, for Mwkaiyama, who grew up watching his grandfather’s work as a carpenter involved in the maintenance and repairing of temples, making things with his own hands was something that had come to him naturally. The presence of his mother, who was acquainted with the art of tea ceremony and flower arrangement, is that which served as an influence for his pursuit and exploration of traditional Japanese culture. Presented against backgrounds of gold and silver, “Candle flame” (2023) is a series of nine works that give the impression as if colors themselves are emitting light from within the wax. The faint, blurs of light bring to mind candlelight that illuminates the darkness, or the soft light of a hazy moon. The moon is a theme that Mwkaiyama has referenced throughout his practice thus far, and since ancient times has also served as a subject for poetry, as presence quietly watching over people's activities, and an object that people look up to in praying for peace.
Mwkaiyama considers the Heian period, when the Kokin Wakashu (“Collection of Japanese Poems of Ancient and Modern Times”) was conceived, to be one of the most international and richly colorful times in Japan, and has prescribed it as one of the important themes of this exhibition. The works as a whole, together with the resplendent colors embedded within their depths, permeate with an elegant artistry evocative of kimonos and obi. As such, they are also a manifestation of Mwkaiyama’s hopes that the beginning of this trilogy will be a bright one, all the while drawing ties between the chaos of contemporary society and the Heian period which was considered a time of peace.
Mwkaiyama expresses his wishes for maintaining a mind and soul like the light of a sacred candle that gently illuminates our obscured world. The appearance of light standing in the darkness is that which is deeply connected to the artist's original experience, and is also a symbolic sight that people around the world who find themselves shaken by the pandemic, the ravages of war, and other disasters, all aspire for. The world of Kisho Mwkaiyama, who commences a new trilogy based on the concept of "Light of Prayer," is bright and full of hope. We invite viewers to take this opportunity to set eyes upon “Candle Flame・ 9,” which overlays the word “Cue” indicating a beginning with the number 9 (pronounced “Kyu” in Japanese), and comprises of an array of works that have evolved throughout his artistic practice.
Kisho Mwkaiyama was born in 1968 in Osaka, currently lives and works in Tokyo. Mwkaiyama spent his childhood in Mount Koya, recognized as one of Japan’s most prominent locations of esoteric Buddhist temples, and as a child had found himself enticed by the tranquil environment of his surroundings and the Buddhist art that existed within it. This childhood experience had essentially lead Mwkaiyama to concern himself with the fundamental presence of light, a motif that he has consistently worked with since the beginning of his artistic career. His representative works using wax are a continuous attempt to both give appearance to and immobilize light. Mwkaiyama’s works have received high acclaim for the manner in which the various colors affixed through wax serve to visualize the invisible realm as well as the way they seemingly question the very concept of beauty. In recent years he has expanded his scope of expression, producing works using materials other than wax.
Major public collections of Mwkaiyama’s works include, Mori Art Museum, the Yokohama Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Karuizawa. And the other corporate collections include, Obayashi Corporation, Casappo & Associates, Ponte Vecchio Hotta Corporation, Samsung Japan Corporation, Mori Building Co., Ltd., Sotheby’s Chicago Contemporary, MGM Resorts International.