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Ota Fine Arts Singapore
7 Lock Road
#02-13 Gillman Barracks
Singapore 108935   map * 
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We Are Pirates of Uncharted History
by Ota Fine Arts Singapore
Location: Ota Fine Arts Singapore
Artist(s): Nobuaki TAKEKAWA
Date: 18 Jan - 10 Mar 2013

Born and raised in Japan, Nobuaki Takekawa was one of tens of thousands of Japanese who encountered the massive earthquake and subsequent nuclear accident of 2011. These incidents shattered the illusions of a promising future endowed by new scientific and technological developments. The events spurred Takekawa on to question the rapid progress of a “Western-originated” world, and to reconsider the history of mankind and the origins of technology.

By focussing on China, the Middle East and other Asian regions, Takekawa allegorises discrete histories, geographies, ecologies and technologies to present unlikely alternatives to Western-centric narratives. The results are reconstituted maps, charts, and objects that quite poetically reverse the waves of past imperial enterprises, which through Takekawa’s own curiosity are inflected by the local and even the personal.

Over the past decade, the artist has also been consistently invested in suggesting notions of time and duration to his viewer in rather unexpected ways. He is highly attentive to idiosyncratic details and often chronicles patterns in nature—from a cicada's eclosion and life cycle, to the harvesting of a sea cucumber. He reconstructs these into colourful family trees drawn with a humorous aesthetic, or into glass models that betray a finer intuition. For him, these patterns are more than decorative features; they accumulate and unfold as exquisite records of personal, natural, and cultural histories.

Thus, one can readily trace Takekawa’s selection of the individual object towards a broader comprehension of the world. In his latest work, he has become very preoccupied with sea creatures, waves, boats, maritime mythology and mapping. The ocean shapes his vision of the globe, as it both dissects and connects time and space.

For this exhibition titled “We Are Pirates of Uncharted History”, Ota Fine Arts will feature Takekawa’s incisions of world maps that reveal bold figurative paintings beneath their cut-out areas, and a signature piece called Island of Nuclides, a sprawling map of a fictitious island-mass assembled from a Periodic Table’s unstable chemical elements. Another remarkable work is an enigmatic exposed skeleton of a drifting model galley titled Galley in the Age of Great Knowledge. In Treasure—Chocopie, Takekawa fills a pirate’s treasure chest with chocolate biscuits, an improbable but witty combination that relates to peripheral financial technologies during the recent North Korean monetary crisis. And finally, a unique revolving lantern that projects shadow pictures is a modest but strongly conceptual key piece, as it utilises heat as power to revolve and indicates the original form of the modern nuclear plant.

With this exhibition, Takekawa will set a stage for all of us to reconsider the present state of our society where history no longer proceeds in a straightforward linear path, and nothing is predictable. He raises the questions on how the technology of today will be charted into history, and how the inventions of tomorrow will give rise to a closer, global society.

Image: Installation view: Galley in the Age of Great Knowledge (detail) at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2012  © Nobuaki Takekawa, Ota Fine Arts

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