Kenji Sakai solo exhibition

Kenji Sakai solo exhibition "Limited"

2022.11.12(Sat) – 2022.11.17(Thu)

YUGEN Gallery will hold a solo exhibition "Limited" by artist Kenji Sakai from Saturday, November 12, 2022 to Thursday, November 17, 2022.

Art that cannot be reproduced by reproduction technology

Geometric and rhythmic patterns, fairy tales like illustrations in fairy tales. Also, a solo exhibition by Kenji Sakai, an artist who draws transforming images such as 3D works and graffiti that appear to be optical illusions using silkscreen techniques. In addition to serving as director of the alternative space "MATTER" in Hanzomon, Tokyo, Sakai is active in a wide range of fields, such as curating special exhibitions.

When he was a high school student who wanted to pursue a career in art, he saw an exhibition by Andy Warhol and was struck by the lightness of pop art, which is not found in traditional oil paintings, such as the vivid images of primary colors and the sense of rhythm created by mass reproduction. Says.

“For someone like me, who wants to create many works without stopping, it was attractive to be able to create a large amount quickly without having to mix colors. After that, I went to Kyoto Seika University's printmaking department because the environment for learning silkscreen was in place. At the National University Print Exhibition, which was exhibited in the fourth year, the school won the first prize for silkscreen work.

“There is also the fun of coincidence that the appearance changes with a slight misalignment.

Silkscreen is characterized by the wide variety of inks that can be used, and the only colors used are CMYK (blue/red/yellow/black). By controlling the viscosity of the ink and the order of printing, the appearance and impression can be changed. It is unique in that it creates one-of-a-kind paintings that cannot be reproduced with silkscreen, which was developed as a reproduction technology for accurately mass-producing a single illustration, by setting limits on painting materials and techniques.

Recently, he has been attracting attention for his style of depth that is not found in conventional silkscreen images, such as combining silkscreen and oil painting, and changing the painting medium from paper to acrylic to incorporate the expression of "moware".

What to do with the things left behind

In this exhibition "Limited", in addition to the silkscreen works that have already started online sales, about 20 works such as oil paintings that have been working on recently will be exhibited. Composed of a group of works with different tastes that approach a single theme from multiple angles, the space will be created with the feeling of directing a group exhibition. The fact that the title "Limited", which means "limited, only a few left" for the lineup of works rich in variety, comes from Sakai's own view of life behind the production.

“I myself live with an awareness of the end, and I think about what to do in the narrow space of things and things left behind.”

It seems that the world is expanding by connecting people, things, and things immediately with SNS, but our vision is narrowing. At this time, Sakai believes that there is a hidden depth in everyday life that seems to be "narrow", and paints it as an abstract painting. Restricting the color scheme to CMYK is also an attempt to see how a wide range of expressions can be established in a narrow area.

This can be regarded as the genealogy of the concept of "micro-pop" that art critic Midori Matsui found in the Japanese art scene for about ten years from the mid-1990s. In an era when the “big story” that has been the basis of various values ​​has been lost, we pick up small fragments from everyday life while thinking about things, places, and times that can no longer be regained, and connect them to create a new story. create a place for meaningful communication and symbiosis. We named such a "small avant-garde" attitude Micropop, and presented it as a way of living in a rapidly changing era.

Sakai picks up small things that can be seen and touched in his daily life, from big movements in the world to everyday conversations. I believe that the mission of art is to create opportunities for people to stop and think and communicate, and I practice a small avant-garde.

Affirmation of "nameless feelings"

While values ​​and ideologies that are common to all humankind are disappearing, there is also a growing tendency to divide people into easy-to-understand dichotomy such as right and wrong, truth and honor. People, things, and things run around the world in an instant, and events on the other side of the world change our lives completely.

"I express the feeling of ``understanding'' and the unnamed feeling of ``I don't know well, but it's good'' in an abstract and multifaceted form. By giving form, colors and spaces are born and linked Time, thoughts, and communication occur in. By expressing it as a painting (work) that continues to exist without change, I leave nameless emotions and communication to the future.”

Instead of trying to force those feelings into something that is easy to understand, if you don't understand them, leave them as they are. Acknowledge what you don't know. What I don't understand now is to keep thinking deeply. Sakai says that paintings are much more enjoyable that way, and that he wants to create works that will last for a long time.

Infinite depth to live in a narrow daily life

“Rather than doing the same thing all the time, it fits my way of life to keep changing things like materials and color combinations. I'm thinking about how I can do silkscreen without getting bored, but I might quit all and concentrate on oil painting.

An unnamed emotion lurking in an era where only intelligibility is required. Staring at the shadows here and there in such a living area, moving things and things as far as I can now. Sakai shows the preciousness of everyday life through the lightness of pop art. The colors printed on top of each other represent the infinite depth of the finite human beings living here and now.

Works on display

*Some of the works on display are subject to change. please note that.



Solo exhibition at ANAGRA, Tokyo "front liner"

Tokyo Seibu Shibuya Group Exhibition "Shibuya Style vol.14"


Tokyo, ANAGRA group exhibition "Rabbit hole peeps"

Tokyo・The blank gallery group exhibition “paradigm shift”


ygion solo exhibition in Kyoto "BUILD BREAK"

Tokyo・TAKU SOMETANI GALLERY group exhibition “ON PAPER”

Tokyo MATTER solo exhibition "CELL"


"The Door to Summer - The Age of Micropop" (Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito 2007)

Kenji Sakai


By grasping the flow of the world and people from various perspectives and leaving them as works, I can control and understand my feelings and thoughts that change. Currently based in Tokyo, he creates silkscreen and oil painting works. He is also the director of MATTER in Hanzomon.

Go to author page

exhibition period

2022.11.12(Sat) - 2022.11.17(Thur)


YUGEN Gallery


Token International Building 3F, 2-12-19 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours

Mon-Fri 14:00-19:00
Sat/Sun/Holidays 13:00-19:00
*Ends at 17:00 on the last day only

Writer's day

November 12th (Sat), 13th (Sun), 16th (Wed), 17th (Thu)

closing day


Admission fee



*Please note that the exhibition period and opening hours may change without notice depending on the situation.