Masumi Iwakawa solo exhibition “BLOW”

Masumi Iwakawa solo exhibition “BLOW”

2024.03.02(Sat) – 2024.03.11(Mon)

YUGEN Gallery will be holding Masumi Iwakawa's solo exhibition "BLOW" from Saturday, March 2nd to Monday, March 11th.

Lines and colors emit like improvisation



Masumi Iwakawa is a painter who is also a saxophone player. Abstract paintings depicting dynamic shapes and vivid color contrasts, as if emotions were poured onto the canvas, depicting portraits with closed-minded expressions, and fantastical images drawn using pop art techniques. . The artist's vitality is conveyed through her motifs and style, which are drawn as if she were improvising with various tensions and fluctuations of emotion.

``The feeling of running the brush and applying color is similar to playing the saxophone.  My style as an artist is largely derived from music,'' she says, creating a numbing wave. The colors emitted within, and the lines drawn like a clear melody, give a sense of music. Approximately 20 pieces, mainly newly drawn works, will be exhibited. YUGEN Gallery will be relocated in April, and this exhibition will be the last exhibition at the current gallery.



A journey to find art that transcends time and space


When Masumi Iwakawa was a high school student, she was ``blown away'' by a live performance by Suetoshi Shimizu, a saxophonist based in Hiroshima, and decided to become a jazz musician. Although she entered a music college, she dropped out early because the environment was not conducive to learning jazz, and studied under Suetoshi Shimizu.

In the realm of music activities,Iwakawa's artwork on CD jackets for the band she belonged to became a topic of conversation.She began painting works that were displayed in restaurants and even murals on buildings in her hometown of Hiroshima. She says that she fell in love with painting because she felt the expression of combining colors and spinning and layering lines gave her a sense of freedom and stimulation that was different from music.

Wanting to compete in the world of painting, she moved to the United States alone in 2013. She began her career as a painter in New York, USA, using a room owned by Andy Warhol and also occupied by Jean-Michel Basquiat as her studio.

``At that time, when I saw Basquiat's paintings for the first time, I felt as if I had met him. It was like I was witnessing the moment when he lived.The works that he brought to life will move people thousands of years later, it feels like we might be able to communicate with each other. I was fascinated by the endless world of art that transcends time."

"Drawing is an adventure. You don't just go in one direction, you go forward and back, you look around and sway, finding things and losing things. I'm excited about that kind of adventure."

Since then, Iwakawa has traveled to Europe and Asia while based in the United States. Her travels are always deeply connected to her creations, as I gain inspiration from the experience of opening my heart to the people, climate, and animals of the places I visit.

In particular, in Berlin, Germany, where she has been based since 2017, she had the opportunity to interact with local people and hear directly about the "painful and sad history of violence," and Iwakawa, who is from Hiroshima, says she felt a lot of things. Also, as she witnessed the absurdity of a society where various races come and go, she changed from the clear, high-contrast color scheme she used when she lived in the United States to a deep color scheme around this time, depicting people she had not drawn much before. As a motif, she began to draw portraits with expressions that are difficult to read.




Something intangible that stirs emotions


After returning to Japan in 2019, her interest in line expression and creating color layers, which she had always been interested in, increased, and she focused on abstract expression. After a solo exhibition in 2022 with the title ``signifié,'' which means ``something that is meant, something that is represented.'' She says she values ​​the feeling of being moved by something, scooping it up and placing it on the canvas. In the same year, she also gave birth. ``The mystery of life that felt during pregnancy, the beauty and strength of unfinished life'' became a new breath of fresh air for the painter Iwakawa.

This exhibition, ``BLOW,'' is being held at a time when there is a growing purity of expression in ``the way things are before they become words, without being bound by abstraction or concreteness.'' The breath that Iwakawa senses through her paintings emerges as a passion that shakes the viewer's sensibilities like the blow of a saxophone.




Exhibition highlights

*Some of the exhibited works may be subject to change. note that.

About sales of works


At the same time as the exhibition is held, the works will be available for viewing and purchase on the YUGEN Gallery official online store.

About reception party

A reception party will be held from 4:00 pm on Saturday, March 2nd and Sunday, March 3rd, the first day of the exhibition.

Drinks will also be available for attendees at the reception party.

In addition, from 5:00 pm, we are planning a live performance in which sound and pictures will intersect, featuring Masumi Iwakawa's paintings and the music of her husband, Kena player Hikaru Iwakawa.

See below for details.


Also, reservations are not required for this reception party and live performance, so we look forward to your participation.

About the sound x picture live performance

A LIVE performance in which painter Masumi Iwakawa and musician Hikaru Iwakawa exchange the inspiration of the moment with each other's colors, shapes, and sounds!

In addition to the quena, quena player Hikaru Iwakawa will play about 30 different musical instruments, including a 1,700-year-old earthen flute, an ancient instrument with a history of nearly 5,000 years, and a flute made from condor feathers and bones.

Everyone present will experience a ``travel'' like they have never experienced before! Please take a look at the moment when sound and pictures blend together.

Information on visitor benefits

Only those who fill out the survey form when visiting will receive an original art book free of charge.

This is an original art book exclusive to this exhibition, containing the exhibited works and exhibition statement in one volume.

Masumi Iwakawa  Exhibition “BLOW” Art Book
Recorded artist: Masumi Iwakawa
B4 variant/List price 1,650 yen (tax included)
*Please note that the design of the art book may be partially changed.  


An exclusive interview with Masumi Iwakawa, a painter who is also a saxophone player, is available on the following page.


From Masumi Iwakawa's experiences in the United States and Europe to the abstract expressions that she has started working on in recent years. We asked her about the source of her creative activities.

Masumi Iwakawa


Masumi Iwakawa/Painter. Born in Hiroshima Prefecture in 1985.

She started playing the saxophone at the age of 16 and entered music college, but dropped out. While studying jazz under Suetoshi Shimizu and pursuing musical activities, she began painting on her own. In 2013, she traveled to New York, USA, and held her first solo exhibition, "BIG BANG" IN THE EAR, in Manhattan. Moved to Berlin, Germany in 2017. Returned to Japan in 2019. She is actively involved in activities such as holding live sessions with her husband, Hikaru Iwakawa, who is a quena player.


2024.3.2 (Sat) - 2024.3.11 (Mon)


YUGEN Gallery


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

Opening hours

*Ends at 17:00 on the last day only

Closed on


Artist in Attendance

March 2nd (Sat), 3rd (Sun), 4th (Mon), 8th (Fri), 9th (Sat), 10th (Sun), 11th (Mon)


Admission fee



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