21 February–22 March, 2020
4 Herald Street

opening night
drum beats for roberta
a young girl on a date
is he a philosopher ?
walking from west with anne
the pleasure at washington sq park
ghost of astor place
teens blues
chess players on thompson st
children’s corner
record collector’s dream
the end of the 90’s
the habits of nocturnal
breakfast at rather’s
film buff’s hobby
a lady on west 88th street
hail on mulberry
an elegant rabbit greeting
it’s not lion
blue’s blue
an incident on east 9th street
church X
grumpy claude’s masterpiece
cover story
that’s why
lost in west village
tender afternoon
tribeca air
gazing stanley
the short moment on 57th st
spring on the 72nd st
cafe V
after january
sharing a cab with colin
he is on a sabbatical
east 40’s
he doesn’t trust answering machines
lost item
the ladder at st marks bookshop
new machine
she is carryng a synthesizers
in a storm
autumn in may
roselee’s class
walking in the village
1995 skirt

In a solo exhibition titled M.O., in reference to the Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim, Tam Ochiai presents a new series of small assemblage paintings alongside a group of previously un-exhibited works on paper and two earlier paintings. This constellation of work from four separate but connected series’ traverse the artist’s ongoing interest in place and reaffirm an under­standing that the seemingly arbitrary movement between locations can function as an index for geographical distance, temporality and a tracing of personal history and experience.

Ochiai’s newest body of work, playfully displayed across the floor, finds its genesis in a once-lost gift Meret Oppenheim made for her then-lover Max Ernst titled Husch, Husch, der schöne Vokal entleert sich (1934). Rediscovered in a Parisian flea market forty years later by a French art dealer and then bought back and restored by the artist, the painting incorporates a golden metal chain that links a grey painted mass with six coloured shapes. This anecdotal narrative becomes a kind of score for the exhibition, while the process of incorporating found material in the formal construction of a painting in this way reaffirms and complicates Ochiai’s notion that place can be identified in a single object.

The artist’s concern with understanding the idiosyncratic movement between places during a lifetime is exemplified in the artist’s ongoing series Everyone Has Two Places. The works in this series present the names of two cities painted onto otherwise largely abstract compositions. These words, seemingly arbitrary, refer to the birth and death locations of a historical or fictitious individual. A single work from this series features in M.O., a biographical portrait of Ulrike Marie Meinhof via simple script.

A selection of works on paper accompany the paintings. Portraits of a fleeting New York—the city where Ochiai is now based—the list of titles for these works (above) represents a deeply personal study of a city, rich with playful nostalgia. Reminiscent of early 20th century paintings celebrating the towering skyscrapers and fast-paced Manhattan energy, each drawing is constructed from a series of straight marks spiking upwards with coloured pencil. Mediated by line, each title seems to mark a single instance, a momentary memory or “found” scenario stumbled across accidentally, not dissimilar to the objects assembled to construct Ochiai’s recent paintings.

A single work from another ongoing series amplifies this incorporation of found objects in his work while implicating the viewer in the exhibition. Two antique ashtrays fixed onto the surface of a horizontal painting represents a functioning ashtray, the artist invites gallery visitors to smoke in his exhibition if they so wish, encouraging the audience to locate themselves in their own narrative of place.

Tam Ochiai was born in Yokohama, Kanagawa in 1967. He moved to the United States in 1990 after graduating from Wako University, and completed his MA in New York University in 1993. He currently lives and works in New York. Ochiai’s major exhibitions include: Criterium 16: Tam Ochiai ‘Shopping bags’, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki, Japan (1995); MOT Annual: Fiction? Painting in the Age of the Virtual, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (2002); Flashback, Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany (2005); The Door into Summer – The Age of Micropop, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki, Japan (2006); Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo [touring Japanisches Kulturinstitut, Cologne and numerous other venues] (2009); spies are only revealed when they get caught, WATARIUM Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2010); and Yokohama Triennale 2011: Our Magic Hour, Yokohama Museum of Art, NYK Waterfront Warehouse [BankART Studio NYK], Kanagawa, Japan (2011). In recent years he has been involved in Anne Eastman’s artist-in-residence programme at the Troedsson Villa in Nikko, continuing to engage in experimental artistic practices with artists from both Japan and overseas. Ochiai’s works are housed in the collections of The National Museum of Art, Osaka, The Japan Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Deutsche Bank, and the Takahashi Collection.


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Exhibition pamphlet