Whitestone Gallery is proud to present Masatake Kozaki’s first Hong Kong exhibition at the gallery’s Hollywood Road space. The exhibition showcases Kozaki’s Tougen series paintings along with his new creations inspired by Tohoku region where he was born, and devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Masatake Kozaki masterfully uses materials and techniques of old and new. Over the traditional Japanese paper he paints with mineral pigments mixed with acrylics and delicately applies gold and silver leafs that dominate the picture plane like medieval religious painting. Under the glittering golden clouds, the artist depicts strange objects of human and animal, plants or even modern machineries like satellites or space shuttle. These hybridised creatures and the composition of the painting reflect a strong influence from the 16th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Encountering the Boch’s art was a turning point to the artist to see the pictorial space in completely different light and influenced to establish Tougen series.

Tougen takes its name from an old Chinese verse on paradise or utopia. For the artist it is an ideal form of the transcendental world with coexisting diversity of shapes and values in peaceful way. Following Bosch’s methodology but keeping Kozaki’s world view, the artist created this outlandish spectacle world of Tougen. After the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011, Kozaki has been exploring the possibility to record the life of inhabitants and folklore of his home region Tohoku where many small towns were destroyed by Tsunami and became uninhabitable due to the nuclear reactor melt down. Motifs like traditional Kokeshi and Daruma dolls start appearing in his paintings along with historical sites in Tohoku region. In “Hikyo Haguro,” the artist reproduces the Buddhist temples, pagodas, and sanctuary atop of Yamagata’s sacred Mount Haguro. It is still the same style as TOUGEN but Kozaki added lost culture and memories of Tohoku as if he is silently wishing for its continuations in his utopian world.

This exhibition will be a rare chance to see the artist’s development from Tougen series work before 2011 and a series of new creations of Tohoku paintings together.

Born in Fukushima Prefecture in 1972. In 2005 Masatake Kozaki completed the Doctor’s Program in Fine Art at Tokyo University of the Arts. He is currently working as Associate Professor at Tohoku University of Art and Design. Kozaki is known for his meticulously detailed, powerful and voluminous style. His works have been exhibited in international art fairs inside and outside Japan, including New York, London, and Mexico. Last year, his video work created based on his TOGEN series was presented in a multi-complex facility, Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho. Also his works have been acquired by public collections including Sato Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Moritani Educational Foundation, Tokyo University of the Arts, Chuo University, The Plaza Hotel, The St. Regis Osaka and Daikanyama T-Site Anjin.