by Midori Furuhata
A New Exhibit in Tokyo
From After Life by Keita Morimoto
After Dark: Light, Reality, and Heterotopia
Keita Morimoto has always been fascinated by light. He says Rembrandt is his favourite, particularly how he uses light to create extraordinary views out of everyday scenes. Morimoto first studied painting when he moved to Canada at 16. He has developed his own approach to realism, combining the precise lighting of Baroque paintings with motifs of everyday contemporary scenes. His ability to create beauty and mystery from nondescript landscapes, and his method of constructing personal narratives with anonymous protagonists, place him in the lineage of magic realism. He shines a light on the “unnamed places” that we pass through in our daily lives—for example, a crosswalk on the street in which the Chief Editor of this magazine lives. Through the contrast between darkness and light, he creates a “heterotopia” in which we can temporarily escape from the real world. He suggests that the freedom to make an ordinary life special can never be taken away. His work teaches us that we have the power to weave our own stories, add colour to our daily lives, create our own “heterotopia” in the midst of the everyday, and that the way we relate to and face the world is up to us.
How do the paintings exhibited in After Dark extend and deviate from the scenes depicted in your paintings previously?
KM - For this exhibition, I focused on the theme and direction. When I came back to Tokyo, at first, I drew the places and things I was attracted to as they were, but when I was talking with Mr. Nukaga (the gallery owner), he said that I perceived it from a tourist’s point of view, and I thought that was true. I had chosen places like Shinjuku’s Golden Street and other places that people from overseas would focus on when they first came to Japan. However, when I was in Toronto, I used to draw ordinary streets and scenery. So I agreed with him when he pointed out that my direction had changed, and I decided to narrow down my original direction and concentrate on how to depict cliché in a fantastic way.
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