Naoki Yamaji was born in Tokyo in 1994. He studied fine arts in Japan for three years from 2013 to 2016. Nowadays, the artist is based in Amsterdam. The theme of his work is about the superfluous position of human kind in an increasingly mechanized society, and the dramatic changes in human life after the machine was invented.
Naoki explains on his site, ‘The capitalist society is replacing human kind with technological items because of its reasonablity. We are losing the position one after another in the society although the technology is originally invented to improve our life.’
Coldness of the Machine
His paintings are composed by two elements, an abstract part and a figurative part. The former represents the sense or emotion owned by human and the latter represents the rationality or coldness the machine has. Naoki underlines the importance of the balance between these aspects in the society and his works show their ideal balance.’
In 2016, he flew to London to examine the European art scene and visited numerous museums and art galleries. During his search, Naoki became aware of the differences between Western and Japanese art in terms of the expression and interpretation. This fascination led to a style that mixed both and represent the art of this period.
During the past years Naoki’s work was part of important exhibitions such as at the Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi in Venice. He has also been exhibited with the artists Khalil Charif and Meg Shirayama and was nominated for the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2020, and selected for the shortlist at London Fruit & Wool Exchange in London in 2020.
In Naoki’s shunga series he combines the sexual life as depicted in the Edo/Meiji era and that of the near future. The scenes invoke the question whether the sexual intimacies are between human and machine, between machines or between humans? Whatever the answer to this question, his work (and vision) shows that the day the machine takes over our sense is at hand.
All the paintings below are acrylic and paper on canvas…
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What do you think about Naoki’s modern variation on shunga art? Leave your reaction in the comment box below…!!