motoko dobashi

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Text for the solo exhibition "The Outfielder" in the gallery Lullin+Ferrari Zurich

Etienne Lullin
April, 2009
Lullin + Ferrari are delighted to present new works by the Japanese artist Motoko Dobashi in her first exhibition
in Zurich. Dobashi (b. 1976 Tokushima), studied from 1995 to 1999 at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo
before moving to Munich in 2000 to pursue her studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. In 2007 Dobashi
obtained her diploma in the master class of Markus Oehlen.
Dobashi’s work has gained prominence through her many exhibitions of large mural paintings. Recently she
showed in the group show Favoriten 08: Neue Kunst in München in the Kunstbau of the Lenbachmuseum,
presenting an impressive interior view of a cathedral. In Zürich Dobashi combines mural paintings with
drawings and works on canvas.
The title of the exhibition The Outfielder is a term lent from baseball. The expression describes the players
standing farthest from the batter. An outfielder's duty is to try to catch long fly balls before they hit the ground
or to quickly catch or retrieve and return to the infield any other balls entering the outfield. Dobashi is intrigued
by the conception of figures, standing in an intermediate area between human society and nature.
The outfielders occupy such a position not really taking part in the game. In her images these figures are not
directly depicted but rather represented by the marks they might have left.
In the first room of the gallery a mural painting shows the top of a mountain framed by little clouds. The painting
gives the viewer the impression of standing on the hill and looking down from an elevated position. Dobashi picks
up the motif of the cloud throughout the subsequent rooms of the gallery and thereby connects the different parts
of the exhibition space, in-between Dobashi places subtle drawings, oil paintings and a painted screen.
In the art of Dobashi, her Japanese cultural background is interwoven with an occupation with European art
historical motifs. Her drawings often quote the reduced graphic signs from Japanese manga and computer
games, their linear, graphic figuration, floating lines and multiperspectivity refer to the traditional Japanese
woodcut. Dobashi connects these elements in an ingenious way with motifs borrowed from the vocabulary of
the German Renaissance masters like Albrecht Dürer and Albrecht Altdorfer.
With spare means Dobashi creates fragile worlds on paper and on canvas. Often her works are monochrome,
painted in blue or grey acrylic hues. Her main focus is centred around the genre of landscape. Dobashi creates
her images with a romantic sensibility, oscillating between reality and fiction. Soul landscapes, in which terms
like alienation, loneliness and longing for nature are captured. In the magical drawing Lantern several Japanese
lanterns float behind a leafless tree. The drawing Castle shows in the layout of the line Dobashi's occupation
with the woodcuts by Dürer. In the drawings Protection Area, Stone Tower and Lighthouse Dobashi devises
fictitious, almost utopian architecture. In Nest and Winterlounge the artists drafts invented visions of nature.
In the paintings of the series Creatures of the Night one can again distinguish lanterns. For the rocks in her
imagery Dobashi employed 3D-animation as source material. The paintings give the viewer the impression of
being on a walk in the night.
In all of her drawings, paintings and murals, Dobashi creates a cosmos of her own which puts a spell on the
viewer. The unique aesthetics of Dobashi's work represents an unusual synthesis of formal and expressive
attributes of Japanese and German art which aptly reflects her eclectic cultural background.
 

Motoko Dobashi