- Born 1981 in Gunma, Japan.
- Based in Akita, Japan.
Obana Kenichi creates drawings and sculptures born from people’s lives, folklore, land landscapes and history, weaving stories that go back and forth between fiction and reality. Although his stories drawn in a graphic novel style do not have the dramatic development of stories that follow the traditional East Asian plot structure, Obana has created many works that attempt to expose contradictions and absurdities that are found throughout the world. Characters wearing colorful masks often appear in his works as symbols of anonymity, driving the narrative like a storyteller. In this exhibition, Obana mounts an installation that follows the overlapping histories of individuals and Tokoname City, with “Ichijiku (fig) Man,” who was born and lives in this area, as the starting point.The exhibition space–once a shop where the prototypes for kyusu teapots were made–is lined with mobiles and drawings that were created after half a year of research in Tokoname. Visitors will also see incoherent jumbles of things, a little room that looks like someone’s place of rest, and tools for agricultural work. These items were rearranged by Obana along with his pieces, but they indicate that this place is an active workshop. The hut across from this building was once a shop where Ichijiku Man’s mother sold fresh fish. In recovering these myriad things, Obana is not merely seeking to visualize them, he is trying to universalize individual episodes. By establishing a “margin” for projecting oneself, Obana is examining how the enormous volume of stories that will soon be forgotten can be revived in the present age. Obana’s recent exhibitions include 200 nen o tagayasu [Plowing 200 years], Akita City Cultural Creation Center (2021; Japan), Oku-Noto Triennale 2020+ (2021; Ishikawa, Japan), VOCA Exhibition 2021, The Ueno Royal Museum (2021; Tokyo, Japan), The Ecology of Expression: Remaking Our Relations with the World, Arts Maebashi (2019; Gunma, Japan). Obana was awarded the VOCA Prize at VOCA Exhibition 2021.
- Selected Works & Awards
- 200 nen o tagayasu [Plowing 200 years], Akita City Cultural Creation Center, Japan
- Oku-Noto Triennale 2020+ , Ishikawa, Japan
- VOCA Exhibition 2021, The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, Japan, VOCA Prize
- The Ecology of Expression: Remaking Our Relations with the World, Arts Maebashi, Gunma, Japan
The Cabin of Fig, 2022
*Last admission 15 min before closing time
- Venue / Access
- Former Teapot Store & Former Fishmonger
- 9 minutes on foot from Tokoname Station on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line / Tokoname Line.