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Shohei Takasaki "Where did you sleep last night?”

  • Nationale 3360 Southeast Division Street Portland, OR, 97202 United States (map)

"Where did you sleep last night?”
March 15–April 23
, 2019
Opening reception Sunday, March 17 from 3-5 PM

In Where did you sleep last night?”, Portland-based painter and sculptor Shohei Takasaki poses a question that is deceptive in its overt simplicity. In his first solo show with Nationale, Takasaki presents a new series of paintings that explore snapshots of domestic life and abstracted intimacy. Strong and enigmatic geometric forms overlap with more readily recognizable shapes such as a sock, a cracked egg, or a leaf, all painted in loud, eye-catching colors. Reminiscent of timeless artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Picasso, Takasaki’s collage-like aesthetic bodes well with his provocative desire to distort figuration. Moreover, notably inspired by the land art of Robert Smithson, and the way in which the scale of a project is at times too grand to grasp all at once, Takasaki melds these disparate parts in an attempt to chip away at the seemingly impossible task of understanding something in its entirety.

The canvases Takasaki has painted are moments from his daily life, scenes from spending time with his loved ones, and therefore represent moments which gallery-goers may also relate to. The elements interspersed between his playful flashes of polka dots, zig-zag lines, and graphite squiggles are allegorical elements for understanding the bigger picture of his narrative. But where the artist might see a cat sleeping or a tender moment between partners, it is just as possible that the viewer may see something entirely different. In painting these familiar portraits of a tiled bathroom or a living room, what Takasaki aims to do is have the viewer first recognize the subject, and then interpret it to their own understanding. He recognizes that there will always be something left to consider, another question to ask, some other angle from which to view the scene. However, this inherent desire to capture a moment and connect to others is what we all strive to do. With these works, Takasaki acknowledges this discrepancy, the simultaneous desire to dive into something, all the while needing to pull back and gain a larger understanding. In “Where did you sleep last night?” he asks his audience the first question, beginning to form the foundation, and then has them continue prodding and connecting. While it may be daunting to fathom the full breadth of a situation, the world, or another person, these paintings demonstrate that what is in our power is to keep trying.

Shohei Takasaki (b. 1979, Saitama, Japan) lives and works in Portland, OR. Self-taught, Takasaki works in both abstraction and figuration. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held in Portland, OR, at Upfor, and internationally in Kuwait, Australia, and Japan. Takasaki has been featured in many publications, including Acclaim (Australia), Antenna (Japan), Arab Times (Kuwait), Art a Part of Cult/ure (Italy), and Shift (Japan).

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