Ultimate Beauty: Group show Curated by Motoichi Adachi and Kyoko Sato at the Tenri Cultural Institution

L-R: Johan Wahlstrom, Erika Harrsch, Eva Petrič, Kyoko Sato, Takuya Sugiyama, Yuji Hamamura, Motoichi Adachi, and Kumiko Hamamura taken at Ultimate Beauty opening night, 2023. Imagery courtesy of Kyoko Sato. 

Ultimate Beauty 

Group show with Takuya Sugiyama, Yuji Hamamura, Erika Harrsch, Eva Petrič, Johan Wahlstrom 
Curated by Motoichi Adachi and Kyoko Sato
Tenri Cultural Institution,
43A West 13th St, New York
January 25th - February 1st, 2023

Motoichi Adachi, an Emmy Award-winning writer in Tokyo, and Kyoko Sato, a New York-based curator known for her introduction of Japanese culture into New York’s contemporary art scene, have come together to launch a new art exhibition series taking place in New York. The series will bring Japan-based artist’s works, regardless of genre or background, into the world's cutting-edge art scene to exhibit alongside leading international and New York-based artists, with the intention to form creative experiences cross-culturally. Ultimate Beauty features work by Takuya Sugiyama, Yuji Hamamura, Erika Harrsch, Eva Petrič, and Johan Wahlstrom, and presents as the first exhibition in this new series.

As translated by Ultimate Beauty’s co-curator Kyoko Sato, one of the five artists, Takuya Sugiyama, “doesn't really care much about conceptual art.” Instead, his desire to visualise what he personally finds beautiful, through moments of his everyday explorations as an artist, acts as a driving force behind his work. Using alkyd resin and a pallet knife, Sugiyama works with gravity to direct how his paint mixes, and where and when it finally stains his canvas. Through this process, a magical harmony of accidental color forms, creating iconography that is recognizable, all the way through to larger, more gestural abstractions that are harder to decipher. Having shown in Chelsea before, this is Sugiyama’s second time exhibiting his paintings in New York. He also served as the initial inspiration for Ultimate Beauty’s conceptual and curatorial intentions. 

 Takuya Sugiyama in front of his work, 2023. Imagery courtesy of Kyoko Sato. 

Watch his live performance from Ultimate Beauty’s opening night.

Another artist in the show, Johan Wahlstrom paints bizarre faces on canvas, covered in Jackson Pollock inspired ink webs to culturally critique the society he lives in today. Born in Sweden in 1959, Wahlstrom works out of New Jersey, and has exhibited his artwork both throughout the United States and internationally. For his contribution to Ultimate Beauty, Johan’s new body of work is all about global connectivity. In Wahlstrom’s words, “we can be connected to anyone in the world within a second. Never in the history of humanity have we been more dependent on this through technology, and I’m not sure if I think this is a particularly conducive thing for our reality. Are we losing our freedom being part of this web? The internet is taking us to a place that we don't even know exists yet!…How is the data that's collected keeping us commercially, politically, socially and ethically connected? How will we ever get out of the net?” 

To read more about Johan’s practice, visit: https://www.johanwahlstrom.com/artworks

 Johan Wahlstrom, Where is the Exit, 2022. 16 x 20 inches. Imagery courtesy of the artist. 

Yuji Hamamura creates wave-like resin sculptures made out of glitter, sand, pearly pigment, and cut out images of sea life, like turtles. His mediums also include grinded up shells, and sand that he purchases from amazon. As he told me this, he giggled between him and his translator. In defence of his material’s origin, he went on to tell me that his selection process deliberately involved seeking synthetic sand, not out of laziness, but out of previous trial and error experiences. Natural sand, he said, was too moist to combine with resin, and its natural dye from sunshine affected its pigmentation too much that he did not find it attractive to use. He told me, when he had tried to use natural sand that it was too impossible, so he decided to look for other, more reliable sources. Hamamura amazingly does not use molds to create his sculptures, but upon asking how on earth that was even physically possible, he told me that that was his biggest, most hidden studio secret. The artist finds beauty in the emerald green waters of the tropics - the crystal clear waters, the white sandy beaches, and the undersea, where creatures lurk. He believes that people can heal just by going to visit the beach, and feels liberation when he flies directly to these ‘healing spaces’ located between his birthplace and his studio residence. Yuji Hamamura was born in the Chiba Prefecture in 1971, but now resides and works out of the Nagasaki Prefecture. In 2018, at the age of 47, he began creating resin-based art about the sea. As soon as he started making in his studio, his work was recognized, and awarded in a public competition the following year. Impressively, in 2020, his work was acquired by the Train of Kaiyukan in Osaka, one of the largest aquariums in the world. In 2022, he participated in the 29th International Peace Art Exhibition, art fairs in Dubai, Paris, and Taiwan, exhibited work at the National Art Museum of Singapore, and had his first solo exhibition at SOZO, a hair salon and gallery space in Omotesando, Tokyo. 

To read more about Yuji’s practice, contact Kyoko Sato: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyoko-sato-4063b891?original_referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

  Yuji Hamamura in front of his work, 2023. Imagery courtesy Kyoko Sato. 

Eva Petrič collects pieces of hand- knitted lace to construct female forms, and keeps the pieces, which appear as doilies, fully intact to their original condition and design. 

According to the artist and Kyoko Sato, Petrič’s phenomenon of webbing defines us as being an existent and single “whole”. The artist's interests lay in fusing smaller pieces of fabric together to create a sense of unification, regardless of whether the depictions are of humans, fish, trees, or spiders. Eva Petrič was born in 1983 in Slovenia, and is a multimedia artist based between New York and Vienna. She creates a wide variety of works including installation, photography, video, performance, and sound. She has had over 75 solo exhibitions around the world, participated three times in the Beijing International Art Biennale, has been nominated twice for the Venice Biennale, and was invited to participate in the Cairo Biennale for 2019. Her work with lace has been exhibited at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, the United Nations, and St. John the Divine Cathedral. She is currently participating in the Moon Gallery on the International Space Station, a project that literally takes artworks beyond our planet. 

To read more about Eva’s practice, and interesting background visit: https://www.eva-petric-evacuate.com

Eva Petrič with Kyoko Sato in front of her work, 2023. Imagery courtesy of Kyoko Sato.

Erika Harrsch holds the idea that what one’s mind and body desire are essential to the formation of a woman’s identity. Harrsch’s visual and formal processes are infused with multilayered references, presenting her as a talented artist with a strong critical social, political, and environmental consciousness. For over six years she has included entomology research as part of her creative output, using butterflies as a metaphor for themes such as gender, identity, migration, nationality, and the relationship that human beings have towards their own nature, fragility, and sexual awakening. Her three drawings included in Ultimate Beauty revolved around themes of clitoral stimulation, sexual desire, commerce, racism and the male gaze, essentially begging the question of female liberation, and the value system bestowed upon young women by society today, and yesterday. Harrsch has been working with themes like this for a while. She also featured a beautiful hand cut, painted smaller work in this exhibition, which reminds viewers of her previously made larger scale sculptures, which you can see on her website. 

To read more about Erika’s practice, visit: http://www.erikaharrsch.com

Erika Harrsch in front of her work, 2023. Imagery courtesy of Kyoko Sato. 

Ultimate Beauty was only on show for a week, but sparks a strong beginning for the curatorial duo’s upcoming efforts in this series. A special thank you to them, Kyoko Sato and Motoichi Adachi, and to all five artists Johan Wahlstrom, Erika Harrsch, Eva Petrič, Takuya Sugiyama, and Yuji Hamamura who were all spectacularly kind and engaging to interview. Congratulations again, and I look forward to seeing all of your work in the future. Another special thanks to the show’s special venue, the Tenri Cultural Institution, which you can read more about on their website: https://tenri.org/, and to videographer Kumiko Hamamura. WM



Whitehot writes about the best art in the world - founded by artist Noah Becker in 2005. 


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