For over 30 years, artist Yasumasa Morimura has been at the forefront of international contemporary art. In projects spanning photography, sculpture, performance, and video, he has transformed himself into iconic figures of the past—from Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo to Marilyn Monroe and Yukio Mishima. In the process, he has excavated the intermingled layers of art history, Japanese postwar history, and personal history, de-centering the notion of “the self.”
Yasumasa Morimura: Ego Obscura is the first institutional solo exhibition in New York devoted to this prolific and versatile artist, surveying his work from the 1980s to today. By conflating his own body with iconic imagery, Morimura’s oeuvre both critiques and pays homage to art history, and history more broadly, while at the same time questioning gender, race, and the national identity.
Complementing a representative selection of major photographic self-portraits, Morimura’s first full-length video piece, Egó Sympósion, features the artist embodying twelve master artists known for their self-portraits. His interpretations, gleaned from self-revealing details in their paintings, shed light on their motivations as artists. In Nippon Cha-cha-cha, which was developed from a live performance of the same title staged at the Centre Pompidou-Metz and Tokyo Commons in 2018, Morimura metamorphoses into key figures from the 20th century, like Yukio Mishima and General Douglas MacArthur, situating his own biographic self within a broader context of Japan’s complex, multilayered post-war history.
Yasumasa Morimura: Ego Obscura is on view through January 13, 2019 at Japan Society Gallery (333 East 47th Street). For more information visit japansociety.org.
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