Born in 1989 in Kanagawa, Japan, Masayoshi Nojo completed his MA in Japanese Paintings in 2015 from the Kyoto University of Art and Design. With his unique and complex techniques, he combines contemporary visual languages with Japanese aesthetics, exploring the themes of memory and the passage of time.
Rooted in Japanese art history, Nojo’s use of silver – ethereal and shimmering – is particularly reminiscent of Ogata Kōrin’s celebrated work during the Edo Period in seventeenth-century Japan. Kōrin’s marbled silver rivers, often painted upon byōbu folding screens, were symbolic of time’s flow due to the changing colour of the metal through oxidisation. This depiction of time has since been adopted as a motif by artists worldwide such as Gustav Klimt and has become a cornerstone of a form of Japanese art known today as Rinpa (literally meaning “school of Kōrin”). With his most recent series, entitled Mirage, Nojo uses this sense of time to conjure a sense of deja-vu in the viewer – evoking a memory tantalisingly close, yet just out of reach.
This exploration of time and memory is achieved using an innovative variety of mixed media and techniques, with each stage meticulously executed. Firstly, Nojo prepares the foundation of his canvas with a marbled layer of acrylic paint, reminiscent of the river in Kōrin’s seminal work Red and White Plum Blossoms. Nojo then photographs, selects, and carefully adjusts each image before transferring the image to the canvas via silk screening – allowing the marbled layer beneath to shine through and to create an abstracted, contemporary twist on the work. Finally, layers of aluminium and silver foil are applied to the canvas, highly symbolic and recreating a sense of intangible distant memories.