Mebae (Awakening), (1998), Acrylic on board 145, 6 x 206 cm 57.3 x 81.1 in Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, © Tetsuya Ishida, 2019; Photograph: Takemi Art Photos, courtesy Kyuryudo Art Publishing Co., Ltd.

Tetsuya Ishida: Self-Portrait of Other is the first retrospective in the U.S. of the acclaimed Japanese painter. The exhibition – which spans the years from 1996, when Ishida graduated from art school, to 2004, shortly before his untimely death – features a selection of approximately 70 paintings and works on paper that provide insight into Ishida’s short but prolific career.  Though relatively unknown in the Western art world, Ishida has become a cult artist in his own country, with his depictions of an imaginary, dystopic world. In 2015, his work was presented at the 56th Venice Biennale, finally receiving the international recognition so many believe it deserves.

Much of Ishida’s artwork centers on the human toll of Japan’s economy in the 90s, when an era of extravagance and conspicuous consumption gave way to the bursting of an economic bubble and an ensuing national recession. This “Lost Decade,” a period during which Ishida came of age, strongly influenced his artwork. “What I am seeking (now) is an expression of anguish, but not something depressing that ends in self-pity…not to show off my anguished feelings but a form of humor that laughs off such emotions. It is close to nonsense.” – T. Ishida (1973 – 2005)

Admission to Tetsuya Ishida: Self-Portrait of Other is by reservation only; walk-up visits are not available. Wrightwood 659 offers paid and free tickets. Free tickets for each week are released online every Monday at 10 am. Visitors who would like to plan a visit at a guaranteed date and time may purchase tickets at

Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-collecting institution that is devoted to both socially engaged art and architecture. Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Wrightwood 659 was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light.

Tetsuya Ishida: Self-Portrait of Other is on view at Wrightwood 659 (659 W. Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614) every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from October 3 – December 14, 2019.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, in Madrid, Spain, and is curated by Museo Reina Sofia Head of Exhibitions, Teresa Velazquez.