Asuka Hishiki, installation view, 2021. Photo by Takeru Koroda
Photo by Takeru Koroda


Still, life

Asuka Hishiki, Sakiko Kurita, Naomi Reis

In English, the term “still life” refers to a scene of living things brought to a halt. In French and Italian respectively, “nature morte” and “natura morta” both translate to “dead nature.” These point to a Western definition of life as something that has movement, while in Japanese, the term is 静物 = quiet object. This emphasis on the objects themselves may connect back to an animistic belief that all things inherently have life, because a deity resides in all things. The three artists of this exhibition— Asuka Hishiki, Sakiko Kurita, and Naomi Reis—consider how what constitutes “life” has shifted from our perspective here in the (post-covid) present.

By adding a comma in the center of the term, “Still, life” suggests that a small change in perception can drastically affect how we see, and how we interpret what we see: even as life is brought still, life continues. Centering the quiet, everyday things we see in our daily lives as subject matter, the artists’ work serves as a switch to make little moments of magic in the everyday more visible. Each viewer, by bringing in their own perspective, will operate those switches differently. “Still, life” is an invitation to see the “life” happening all around us in our everyday encounters with fresh eyes, offering ways to turn on anew to the life that we see.

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Asuka HishikiSakiko KuritaReis Naomi
Kyoto City University of Arts Art Gallery @KCUA
20 days
(2021.11.13 Sat.2021.12.5 Sun.)

Kyoto City University of Arts Art Gallery @KCUA
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Artist Profiles

Sakiko Kurita
Sakiko Kurita is a painter who gathers familiar subjects from our everyday environment —people, animals, plants—into an integrated landscape. The disparate subjects brought together in each composition create their own world, while keeping each other at arm’s length. Grounded in a charming sense of humor, the paintings provide a space to let go of logical thinking, a space that invites the viewer to stay awhile.

1972 Born in Okayama
1997 MFA in Painting from Kyoto City University of Arts
Lives in Osaka

2010 “Garden of Painting : Japanese Art of the 00s,” the National Museum of Art, Osaka
2008 “Exhibition as media-LOCUS-,” Kobe Art Village Center, Hyogo
2000 “VOCA2000,” the Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo
1999–2021 Solo and group exhibitions include: Fukugan Gallery, Osaka; Gallery Morning, Kyoto
Public collections: the National Museum of Art, Osaka
Asuka Hishiki
Asuka Hishiki’s work spans from drawings of rare endangered plants to more familiar vegetables found in the home, vividly painted in astonishing detail. For the past decade, her work has addressed environmental issues and the survival of the natural world, including large-scale installations using recycled paper on the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies. Hishiki has also participated in residencies at renowned botanical gardens around the world as part of a decades-long initiative to produce vast visual records (florilegia) of contemporary botanical documentation.

1972 Born in Kyoto 
1997 MFA in Painting from Kyoto City University of Arts
Lives in Hyogo
Public collections include: The Huntington, Kew Gardens, the Hunt Institute, New York State Museum, the Shirley Sherwood Collection, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and Denver Botanic Gardens.

Instagram: @greenasas
Naomi Reis
Born in Shiga, Japan, Naomi Kawanishi Reis makes 2D works using everyday materials of paper, fabric, blades, and brushes to focus on idealized spaces—utopian architecture, conservatory gardens, and more recently, still lifes from living rooms, dining tables, and everyday life. She has had solo or two-person exhibitions at Transmitter (Brooklyn, NY), Youkobo Art Space (Tokyo), Mixed Greens (New York, NY), and group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Brooklyn, NY), and Wave Hill (Bronx), among others. In 2018 she received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, and in 2015 was a NYFA Finalist in Painting. Residencies that have supported her work include Yaddo, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, and the Lower East Side Printshop.

1976 Born in Shiga
2005 MFA, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Design
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Instagram: @naomikawanishireis

Installation Views

  • Photos by Takeru Koroda