Artist: Tam Ochiai
Venue: Soft Opening, London
Exhibition Title: M.O.
Date: February 21 – March 22, 2020
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Soft Opening, London. Photos by Theo Christelis.
drum beats for roberta
a young girl on a date
is he a philosopher ?
walking from west with anne
the pleasure at washington sq park ghost of astor place
chess players on thompson st children’s corner
record collector’s dream
the end of the 90’s
the habits of nocturnal
breakfast at rather’s
film buff ’s hobby
a lady on west 88th street
hail on mulberry
an elegant rabbit greeting
it’s not lion
an incident on east 9th street church X
grumpy claude’s masterpiece
lost in west village
the short moment on 57th st
spring on the 72nd st
sharing a cab with colin
he is on a sabbatical
he doesn’t trust answering machines lost item
the ladder at st marks bookshop new machine
she is carryng a synthesizers
in a storm
autumn in may
walking in the village
In a solo exhibition titled M.O., in reference to the Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim, Tam Ochiai presents a new series of small assemblage paintings alongside a group of previously un-exhibited works on paper and two earlier paintings. This constellation of work from four separate but connected series’ traverse the artist’s ongoing interest in place and reaffirm an understanding that the seemingly arbitrary movement between locations can function as an index for geographical distance, temporality and a tracing of personal history and experience.
Ochiai’s newest body of work, playfully displayed across the floor, finds its genesis in a once-lost gift Meret Oppenheim made for her then-lover Max Ernst titled Husch, Husch, der schöne Vokal entleert sich (1934). Rediscovered in a Parisian flea market forty years later by a French art dealer and then bought back and restored by the artist, the painting incorporates a golden metal chain that links a grey painted mass with six coloured shapes. This anecdotal narrative becomes
a kind of score for the exhibition, while the process of incorporating found material in the formal construction of a painting in this way reaffirms and complicates Ochiai’s notion that place can be identified in a single object.
The artist’s concern with understanding the idiosyncratic movement between places during a lifetime is exemplified in the artist’s ongoing series Everyone Has Two Places. The works in this series present the names of two cities painted onto otherwise largely abstract compositions. These words, seemingly arbitrary, refer to the birth and death locations of a historical or fictitious individual. A single work from this series features in M.O., a biographical portrait of Ulrike Marie Meinhof via simple script.
A selection of works on paper accompany the paintings. Portraits of a fleeting New York—the city where Ochiai is now based—the list of titles for these works (above) represents a deeply personal study of a city, rich with playful nostalgia. Reminiscent of early 20th century paintings celebrating the towering skyscrapers and fast-paced Manhattan energy, each drawing is constructed from a series of straight marks spiking upwards with coloured pencil. Mediated by line, each title seems to mark a single instance, a momentary memory or “found” scenario stumbled across accidentally, not dissimilar to the objects assembled to construct Ochiai’s recent paintings.
A single work from another ongoing series amplifies this incorporation of found objects in his work while implicating the viewer in the exhibition. Two antique ashtrays fixed onto the surface of a horizontal painting represents a functioning ashtray, the artist invites gallery visitors to smoke in his exhibition if they so wish, encouraging the audience to locate themselves in their own narrative of place.