Moeko Kageyama – “Inside Someone’s House”
Curator, Yokohama Museum of Art
In the long history of art, probably no other theme has developed as a reflection of land and culture as much as landscape paintings. Not to mention examples such as the Eight Views of Xiaoxiang painted by a Chinese artist during the Sung dynasty, and Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, who were the leading artists for landscape paintings in Europe in the 17th century. Landscape paintings have in many cases been created as idealized earthly paradises, in place of depictions of real places that spread out before one’s eyes. Later, after the concept of sharing an ideal scene collapsed into itself through industrialization and war, landscape paintings began to function as the unconscious expressions of individual painters, or as imagined landscapes with symbolic meaning, like an absurd scene painted by a Surrealist. Based on the history of landscape paintings, Moeko Kageyama can also be probably regarded as a contemporary landscape painter who paints a world view of this century.
Kageyama describes her works in her solo exhibition “Inside Someone’s House” as paintings created in the image of central Tokyo. The artworks Jet fan and Skywalk exhibited on the first wall inside the gallery appear to be paintings of artificial structures that encroach upon the natural world, like highways that have been cut through mountains in an unfamiliar development. However, for Kageyama, these are the visual reflections of a city’s landscape, the so-called concrete jungle, a landscape at the heart of which she was brought up. For Kageyama, who was born and raised in a city, natural and organic matter and urban and inorganic matter are not opposites, but rather vague boundary lines that adjoin each other, and moreover, some of the compositions of her artworks have been influenced by scenes from Hollywood movies she has seen. The world of Kageyama’s works, is one in which the boundaries between nature and artificiality, and between fiction and reality are eroded. However, it isn’t completely true that her sense for “landscapes,” which at first glance appears absurd, means that she has some kind of special sense. In fact, to what extent do we see the landscape with our own eyes? The visual information we obtain about the world around us, including vast natural landscapes and familiar urban spaces, is recollected as a mixture of not only what we more or less actually saw, but also as images see through the eyes of others, such as video images and photographs, and information that has been cut and processed. In addition, it is also true that many urban dwellers are really nowhere near surrounded by organic matter, to the extent that they feel closer to urban space than to an untouched primeval forest. In the “Resurrection” edition of the “Phoenix” series, the life’s work of manga artist Osamu Tezuka, there is a protagonist half of whose body is mechanized through regenerative medicine, which makes the existence of humans distant to him, and in turn robots appear more like humans. Tezuka depicted phenomenon such as blast furnaces which seemingly appear like clean rivers. Back in 1970, when the concepts of nature and machines were inseparably opposed to each other, this may have been a visual horror of the future of mechanization, but in the world today where people have become accustomed to virtual worlds identical (or even better) than real nature, this story feels like a different reality. Furthermore, when we unknowingly come to realize that our own senses are inherently experiencing “the world through machines,” it is then Kageyama’s “landscapes” certainly come into view as a reality of the world that urban dwellers see. Now, what will these landscape paintings be called in the future?