It is often difficult for us to look at things with pure eyes.

Instead, what is seen passes through the filters of knowledge, experience, and outlook, appearing in a different form for each viewer. Yo Ishihara’s artwork expresses the world as seen through those filters. For viewers, the experience is akin to wearing two pairs of glasses and their newly clouded field of vision will surely cause distress. However, the experience also helps remind us of the filters we all possess

Encountering “Someone” is a lot harder than we think.
By “Someone”, I mean a person or thing for which there is no substitute, a presence referred to as “Who” by the post-war philosopher Hannah Arendt. “Who” are those people or things that appear for a brief moment between the seams of our everyday life and exist without attribute or preconception. Staring into the crowd, we see them with our gaze, take notice, and meet.
I have tried to capture that image in my paintings.

■Comment to visitors
Thank you for taking the time to view this solo exhibition, Yo Ishihara – Who.
At this moment, the world is subsumed by invisible anxiety. It has become difficult for people to encounter or interact with one another and our forms of communication are slowly transforming, forcing us to confront the question of how the exhibition of paintings will evolve under these circumstances. I have never been reminded more of the fact that exhibition spaces are not only places where we encounter artwork but other people as well.

With the cooperation of SEIZAN Gallery, I have been given the opportunity to hold this current solo exhibition online. I do not know how the texture and brushwork of my paintings will be perceived, but I also believe this is a chance for others to learn about my work in a way that transcends the difficulties of physical distance.

It is not only us who see and encounter the irreplaceable “who”, but we, ourselves, are also seen and encountered by them. Is this not a blessing? I leave you with that question and hope that all of you will remain in the best of health.

Who Series
The “Who” series is based on the word assigned by philosopher Hannah Arendt for a presence that has no substitute, as opposed to “what”, which is a presence that relies on specific characteristics. In the contemporary age of excess information, we are no longer able to effectively process information in its entirety and instead rely on easy categorization of people and things to sustain our lifestyle. Through my paintings, I seek to encourage people to reconsider that stance. As each painting is a unique piece, my hope is that they can capture a moment which has no substitute. That goal developed into this series, which is focused on figurative images of humans.

Note to Self Series
For me, the act of painting is an act of capture. As implied by the title “Note to Self”, this series focuses on things that are relatively trivial and easy to forget.

Invalid Signal Series
When we see someone injured, we feel the same pain, even though we ourselves are not injured. This phenomenon is a function of our mirror neurons. On the other hand, we also have a function called “invalid signal” that enables us to forget the pain. It seems that humans are able to connect and disconnect with others at different times. I imagine that specific situations trigger this connection or disconnection and have tried to capture that notion in these works.

veil of ignorance Series
The “Veil of Ignorance” series is named after a thought experiment proposed by philosopher John Rawls. Rawls theorized that if all people wore a veil of ignorance as they determined the rules of justice, they would believe themselves to be in a position of potential social disadvantage and create rules with that in mind. In contrast, my paintings pose the question of whether it is possible, in contemporary society, to have a shared image of social disadvantage. The nature of the figures in the paintings is determined by the people who view them.

11/05/2020(mon) -  22/05/2020(fri)

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