Atsushi Kaga

Works by Atsushi Kaga at Sotheby's

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Atsushi Kaga Biography

Lives and works between Ireland and Kyoto, Japan

Behind the playful, surreal façade of Atsushi Kaga’s work lurks significantly darker territory; wherein the artist confronts serious issues of cultural politics, mental health - personal insecurities, paranoia (particularly a fear-of-missing-out), companionship and loneliness, and the complex search for identity and the philosophical crises presented by daily routine. Through the eyes of a self-proclaimed ‘Otaku’, and fascinatingly influenced by a mixture of the Japanese storytelling cultures of Manga, Anime and satirical Irish literature; from Swift, Wilde, Joyce, Beckett to Flan O’Brien, Kaga’s razor-sharp wit and extraordinary imagination takes the viewer on a willingly-led journey of exploration through a complex alternate universe, a register of the sadly poetic to the hilarious, in the company of a cast of invented, metaphorical characters. While still a student, Atsushi Kaga created the classic trickster, Pooka-like bunny, Usacchi, that has evolved over the years as an intricate, multi-faceted surrogate, an emotional self-portrait of the artist, at work and thought. Recent paintings are stylistically influenced by the Kyoto ‘Rinpa’ school of the Edo period, particularly in the employment of luminous gold leaf grounds, and elegant decorative depictions of the natural world, both are exemplified in The life of the kitten with brown ears.

Originally from Tokyo, and now living and working between Ireland and Kyoto, Japan, Atsushi Kaga studied Fine Art at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, graduating in 2005, and made a critically acclaimed first solo museum exhibition at the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny in 2008. Kaga collaborated with his mother on a process show, Nerd bag, at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (2010) and re-iterated in a solo Positions, Art Basel Miami Beach, (2011). Most recently Kaga presented his fourth solo exhibition at mother’s tankstation Dublin; Melancholy with vegetables surrounded by miracles (2020), which introduced and developed his recent, highly detailed large-format paintings, influenced by both Dutch Vanitas and the 17-18th century Kyoto schools, fused to his characteristic style and subject matter. Atsushi Kaga has also made notable solo exhibitions with Maho Kubota Gallery, Tokyo, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, Galeria Leme, São Paolo, Galerie Nicolas Krupp, Basel, and Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin, amongst others. He participated in the Location One International Residency Programme, New York (2012); the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York (2011); and has also held residencies in São Paolo, Fountainhead, Miami and the Artists’ Work Programme at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Kaga was awarded the 2019 – 2021 Tony O’Malley Residency in Callan, Kilkenny and participated in the Steep Rocks Art Residency, Washington, Connecticut in Autumn 2021. Kaga will present his first London solo exhibition your memorabilia floats in the air, with mother’s tankstation | London in October 2022.

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