Enrico Isamu Oyama is an Italian-Japanese artist who creates art in various media including painting and installation. Living and working between Brooklyn and Tokyo, this international artist recently opened his first solo presentation in two years at THE GALLERY, a food, art, and cultural space founded by the Michelin Star Chef Hiroki Odo. The exhibition called Rock Show, Sick I Go, presents a new series of multimedia work, including a mural on an outdoor dining tent and a wall installation of “wild posting”. In this exclusive interview with Create! Magazine, we learn how the artist developed his signature visual language Quick Turn Structure, the myriad ways it is incorporated into his solo exhibition and the conceptual ideas underpinning his graphic, street art-inspired work.
Congratulations on recently opening your first solo exhibition in New York in two years: Rock Show, Sick I Go at THE GALLERY. How did the show come about and can you walk us through how you planned for this multifaceted presentation?
The conversation started when I met Akiko Ichikawa, the curator of THE GALLERY, inNew York in the summer of 2021. She was talking about the programming of this new art and culinary project space in Flatiron and asked me if it fits my interest. I was curious how I could develop the unique structure / condition ofTHE GALLERY, a dining and exhibition space at the same time, as a medium to express diverse aspect of my style, Quick Turn Structure. I had to return to Tokyo for projects so we kept exchanging ideas and plans remotely before I came back to NY in June 2022 for the final preparation process. As a result, the exhibit is physically multifaceted while conceptually unified.
Can you briefly speak to the concepts behind the mural installation on the outdoor dining tent, the exhibition posters, and the title of the show itself? Each aspect of the show is so intentional and rich in meaning.
City streets have always been a stage for art and self-expression. My attention was caught by the fact that some of the car lanes in the city were once sidewalks where kids used to scribble. Now they are back in the hand of humans again as a place for dining. This context naturally led me to convert the outdoor dining area into a canvas for art that links the inside and outside of THE GALLERY. Wild posting was another way to go across the border, both physically and conceptually.These posters are actual advertisements when pasted on the street. They are also an element of the exhibition too when installed on the interior wall ofTHE GALLERY, and an artwork itself when hand painted and framed. The exhibit title is a pun for Raku-sho and Seki-ga, referencing the townspeople culture of Edo, the former Tokyo. It is a thought experiment as well as a glance into our Japanese background.
How have you felt about the reception of the show thus far?
I think it has been received well by both art fans and food fans.
Taking a step back to consider your work as a whole, can you tell us more about how you developed your visual language Quick Turn Structure? Where did the name come from?
I was originally influenced by street aerosol writing of the1970s-80s New York. However, my interest was more about its visual language rather than fulfilling the desire for self-recognition by putting my name in front of the public. It did not need to be a name for me so I removed letterforms and extracted the lines with dynamic motion and recomposed them into a black-and-white abstract shape with three-dimensional depth, which I named Quick Turn Structure. The name comes from a conversation with my artist friend, who described one of the lines I drew as a “quick turn.” I added“structure” because it is not one line but a complex body of organized interlocking lines.
You live between Tokyo and New York, maintaining a studio in both cities. Do you always spend a certain part of the year in each city?
While the pandemic has affected the way of the global lifestyle, I would still say that my time and art production have been fairly split almost the same in the two cities throughout the past years up until now, though, the cycle is sort of random. Each studio has a different meaning and function and that is comfortable for me.
What would you consider essential to have in your creative space?
A sense that your studio is an extension of yourself. That reflects the amount of thoughts and intentions you put in the design of the studio.
Are you already working on your next major project after the collaboration with THE GALLERY closes in mid-September?
I have three upcoming solo exhibits in Tokyo scheduled in the fall of 2022 and more international projects in 2023.
Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017. Find more of her work: www.aliciapuig.com