A4 Art MuseumExhibitions
International ProjectArtist Case Study

The Depth of Light:Shinji Ohmaki’s Solo Exhibition

2023.08.19 - 2023.11.19
  • Curator:
    Fumio Nanjo, Sunny Sun
  • Artist:
    Shinji Ohmaki
  • Organizer:
    A4 Art Museum

Exhibition information

The Depth of Light

Fumio Nanjo

The first time I saw Shinji Ohmaki’s soap bubble work in the darkness was at a local art festival called Naka-Boso International Art Festival Ichihara Art x Mix (Now Ichihara Art x Mix) in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture. Ichihara is a provincial city near Tokyo where rice paddies and fields still remain. I spent a whole day walking around seeing the works of arts in the woods, sometimes on a lake, in abandoned schools and old Japanese-style houses. When I was told that it might still be open, I finally visited Ohmaki’s work in an old Japanese-style house. I walked around the house for a little while, and finally arrived at a space with a two-story vaulted ceiling in the center.  This gloomy space was surrounded by the distinguishing old wooden pillars and beams, which made up the framework of the house.

At the center of the space, a soap bubble was slowly falling from the distanced ceiling to the floor. The soap bubble burst as it hit the floor and disappeared. When it disappeared, the smoke that was inside the bubble was expelled simultaneously, and a puff of smoke drifted up into the air. There were only five or six people in the audience at that time. Holding my breath with the audience, I stared into the dark space, waiting for the next soap bubble to fall. Are there any other artworks that creates enough tension to make you hold your breath and stare like this? I have seen Ohmaki’s works in several places over the years, but I had never been so moved as I was at this moment.

The transience of the soap bubble as a material, the momentary white remnants that remain as smoke, and the contrast between pale light and darkness are all mixed together, evoking the dreams and disappointments, hopes and despairs of our lives. It is an homage to the children, mothers, elderly and families who had lived in this old house for generations before leaving. In addition, this work was meaningful because it was displayed in an old wooden house at dusk. Art festivals often consist of many mediocre works and a few outstanding ones. Therefore, it’s a valuable experience to encounter such wonderful works.

In the A4 exhibition, the audience is first greeted with “Flotage” + “Liminal air core” on the 1st floor, evoking one’s “existence” and its shadow, emanating from the nature within human. The audience will be enveloped by the expanse of the scale, swallowed up by the undulating monochrome waves.

On the 1st basement floor is “Gravity and Grace” and “Echoes Infinity.” One fills the space with light and shadow. The other fills the floor with rich colors. These two are opposites in a sense. That is to say, a metaphor of life and death. This is the contrast that the artist Shinji Ohmaki intended. One is bright and positive, while the other holds shadows and lead to darkness. In the corners, there are sculptures and two-dimensional silhouetted vessels, depicting the contrast between disappearance and existing.

On the 2nd floor, undulating black fabric floats in a nearly pitch-black space, bathed in a small amount of light (“Liminal Air space-time.”) The theme of this floor is the existence of “self” and “others” and the “boundary line” that holds and connects the two.

Ohmaki’s works are always fragile and delicate. In addition, the essential parts of many of his works keep changing, or are untouchable. In the face of indeterminate and unverifiable fluctuations of existence, we cannot help but question what is real. The reality that surrounds us exists as a kind of ecosystem; the repetition of creation, destruction, and rebirth, a cyclical worldview and the concept of time. Ohmaki concentrated it in an extremely minimalist expression and represented it symbolically. By doing so, he created an opportunity for us to think about our existence in the midst of this cycle.

The exhibition progresses from bright works to darker ones, and ends in darkness. There is a saying, “The light of the day cannot see the depth of the darkness of the night.” In the darkness, “Liminal Air” keeps moving, like an enigmatic life.

Through the grand narrative called “exhibition”, Shinji Ohmaki brings us deep insights and new encounters. It will strengthen the meaning of life and give us the strength to face tomorrow. Art is power.

Installation Views



MOT TIME明日志 2023-08-30