Entering the world of Tokyo-based Japanese sculptor Teppei Kaneuji is like walking into a funky workshop gone awry. Quirky combinations of tools, surreal snow-caked household objects on barbecue grills, towers of Claes Oldenburg knockoffs, and black and white stuffed toys collide to create a phantasmagoria of color and action. In his first US solo exhibition, Deep Fried Ghost, Kaneuji’s inventiveness, seen through five series of works made from 2004 to the present, reevaluate the significance of assemblage by taking sculpture to new levels of amusement, fascination, and serious thought.
In the series Ghost in the Liquid Room (2014), spooky-looking contraptions defy definition. Made up of inkjet print, paper, wood, urethane coating, and clamp, angled and intertwined curvaceous shapes evoke unexpected feelings of angst and unease. Inkjet prints of smooth flowing grey liquid laminated onto wavy wood resembling rapids are combined with dark curvy snake-like shapes and a tangle of metal with pointed ends like spears. These mundane forms transmogrify into slithering, tensile objects. In Ghost in the Liquid Room (2015), strange protruding hands holding slimy goops of apple-green paint evoke ghouls — inducing nothing but the jitters.
Kaneuji’s technique and process is paramount to his ability to arouse dread and bring unpredictable emotions to the surface. Influenced by Japanese manga art and anime that imbues cartoon imagery with three-dimensionality and life, the element of surprise is best seen in his White Discharge series (2014), which consists of poured white resin over an assemblage of household objects. Resembling snow-capped Christmas trees from afar, kitchen utensils, toys, and dollar-store knickknacks are amassed to form large drippy white mounds. Erected on foldable tables and plastic containers, eerie ghost towns and frozen abandoned homes loom large. Simple readymades are transformed into the perplexing and bizarre. In Kaneuji’s realm, objects take on different meanings, oscillating between the banal and the extraordinary, the playful and the grave — nothing and everything at the same time.
In the Muddy Stream from a Mug series (2009–15), which was inspired by coffee stains, meticulously cut-out splotches in shades of smudged nutmeg, coffee, saddle, and camel brown merge to morph into large dry landmasses. Despite the humor and whimsy of these sculptures that emanate from the artist’s humdrum observations, Kaneuji’s works reverberate with deeper ecological concerns. Again and again his sculptures invoke blizzards, drought, and disaster in a dysfunctional environment destroyed by mass consumerism.
Kaneuji demonstrates his mastery of the surreal in his series Games, Dance and the Constructions (2015). A medley of screen-printed black and white objects on cotton fabric are individually cut, stuffed, sewn, and arranged in dizzying permutations in encased boxes. The Daliesque distortions and combinations of everyday objects that are made to resemble the real thing unleash a dream world that accesses the unconscious mind. These lookalike clocks, bones, toys, bits of scenery, pipes, telephones, nature, food, and myriad other pieces use mundane items to reveal a tumultuously repressed world of fetishism and desire.
Like the inhabitants of the manga world, Kaneuji’s objects embody larger themes and ideas. Though amusing at first glance, these original and provocative works are noteworthy for their ability to straddle multiple levels and unpack layers of meaning. Made in the era of postmodernism when non-prescriptive structures define art, the artist’s work is a commentary on materialism and our appetite for surprise. His aesthetic, defined by disquiet and violence, make his Kafkaesque combinations as much about novelty as about our current state of mind.
Deep Fried Ghost continues at Jane Lombard Gallery (518 West 19th Street, New York) through October 17.
From music and architecture to comedy and horror, these films showcase Ukrainian culture and its long-held ethos of resistance.
A new exhibition focuses on Hesse’s works on paper, and the way they demonstrate the role of drawing in the famed sculptor’s process.
Part of the university’s Artists on the Future series featuring renowned artists and cultural thought leaders, this online event is free and open to the public.
The artists showcased in Archival Intimacies examine the colonial trauma’s impact on Asian Americans and search for ways to overcome it.
Eiffel inadvertently paints its protagonist not as a great man worthy of scrutiny or praise, but as the Elon Musk of his day.
This illustrated guide offers readers a broad and accessible introduction to the evolution of Armenian modern and contemporary art.
The fire-resistant copy will be auctioned to raise funds for PEN America.
Funded projects include an exhibition of contemporary and historical retablos and a residency that pairs glass artists with creators in other mediums.
This rigorous, studio-based program in Philadelphia focuses on building unique studio practices that synthesize the disciplines of printmaking, book arts, and papermaking.
Bonhams paused the sale of the rare garment, which was expected to fetch $1.2 million.
Now playing the Cannes Film Festival, the new film from the director of The Square embarks on a luxury cruise that goes to hell.
By enshrining her memories into sculptural form, Juárez celebrates her emotional pilgrimage through the growing pains of childhood to adulthood.