Caroline Messensee, director of Artcurial Austria,
and Marcello Farabegoli request your company at
HANA USUI – TO LIFE
curated by Liesa Takagi
Tuesday, 18 September 2018, 6:30 pm
Lucas Gehrmann, curator of the Kunsthalle Wien, et al. will be speaking at the vernissage.
19 September – 9 November 2018
Mon – Fri 10 am – 12:30 pm and 2 pm – 5:30 pm, Sat 11 am – 2 pm
A – 1010 Vienna
The Austrian representative office of Artcurial, the leading French auction house, regularly offers artists the opportunity to exhibit in their premises at Rudolfsplatz – in the heart of Vienna. This time, in collaboration with Marcello Farabegoli Projects, the artist Hana Usui – born in Japan and living in Vienna since 2011 – will present works with sociopolitical references, in which her work cycle Death Penalty in Japan will be the focus of the exhibition. Through her acutely sensitive and sophisticated illustrative language, the artist offers the public an understanding of this complex subject matter as an intimate aesthetic-artistic experience.
To this day, Japan – alongside the USA – is the only modern industrial nation that adheres to the death penalty, by hanging. One survey reveals that the vast majority of Japanese support capital punishment.1 However, knowing that certain atrocious crimes cannot be surpassed but also that social problems fundamentally contribute to violence in society, the artist strictly rejects the death penalty on principled and moral grounds.
Profoundly rooted in her Japanese homeland, Usui develops her own 'codes' by engaging with the content of each topic, which she learnt to observe objectively and matter-of-factly during her nineteen years in Europe (Monika Knofler, 2018). For example, she explores the fate of those convicted; she reduces, among other things, their stories to the rendering of a line, but one not oriented downwards, to death. In this Hana Usui also finds positive moments: atonement and remorse, as well as the transformation from criminal activity to providing assistance in society, in which the human is put above the crime and life put above death.
Usui’s works embrace the aesthetic clarity of form of non-figurative, abstract art while at the same time contextualising such established forms found in non-figurative art by imbuing them with socially rich, partly representational motifs. Usui’s artistic realisation of these is characterised by her extraordinarily varied linear form, with all its reduction, which has increasingly disengaged from its origin in Japanese calligraphy. This formation of line, created by scribing with a flat-head screwdriver, is no longer to be regarded as perceived innocence of pure form in the sense of modernism but as an oxymoron that unites such a luminous wealth of forms and that (as Michel Foucault deemed in his Discipline and Punishment) dark verso of Enlightenment liberalism.
Liesa Takagi, curator of the Exhibition
Born 1974 in Tokyo, Japan. Lives and works in Vienna and Bolzano/Bozen
1980–1999 Calligraphy studies with renowned calligraphy masters
1994–1998 Art history studies at Waseda University of Tokyo
2000 Relocation to Vienna and final disengagement from calligraphy
2002 Relocation to Berlin
2008/2009 Lectureship at the Art History Institute of the Freie Universitaet Berlin
2011 Return to Vienna
Works by Hana Usui have been shown at Kunsthalle Bremen, the Museum of Prints and Drawings of the Berlin National Museums (Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin), the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs of the Dresden State Art Collections (Kupferstich-Kabinett der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden), the Manggha Museum in Krakow, Residenzgalerie – State Museum of Salzburg, Seoul Arts Center, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, among other places. They have also been bought by public collections including the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the Dom Museum Vienna (Otto Mauer Collection), the National Museum of Berlin, the State Museum of Dresden, and renowned private collectors. Articles on her works have been published by authors such as Anne Buschhoff (Kunsthalle Bremen), Bernhard Maaz (Pinakotheken in Munich), Marietta Mautner-Markhof (Albertina in Vienna), and Andreas Schalhorn (State Museums of Berlin) as well as in such media as art press, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kunstforum international, La Repubblica, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Yomiuri Shimbun, and Wiener Zeitung. Hana Usui is represented by Galerie Dittmar Berlin.
1According to a government opinion poll in 2014, 80.3 per cent (2009: 85.6 per cent) of the population support the death penalty (source: Mika Obara-Minitt, Japanese Moratorium on the Death Penalty, New York 2016, p. 202).