Inspired by Norse mythology and referring to the gallerists’ ancestry, Japanese artist Shintaro Miyake presents for this solo exhibition at Gerhardsen Gerner Oslo – a Viking Show!
Shintaro Miyake focuses in one prominent ensemble of drawings on the heroic legends and the adventures of
Erik the Red and his son Leif Eiriksson, the legendary Norse explorers.
Leif Eiriksson was the first European to land in North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the
Norse L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. It is believed that Leif was
born in Iceland around the 970s—the son of mother Thjodhild and father Erik the Red, an explorer from Western
Norway, who again founded the first Norse colonies in Greenland.
Another important group of work tells the legends of Norse Gods in Miyake’s characteristically Japanese style of
drawing. Here Miyake has dedicated his large-scale triptych Viking Age to the topic of the end of the world, Ragnarök.
The enemies of the world of Norse mythology are present in this spectacular event: Fenrir, ‘the Fenris Wolf’ is
featured here as well as Jörmungandr, ‘the Midgard Serpent’ (Old Norse: Miðgarðsormr) and Hel, the goddess of the
dead. All three figures are siblings and children of the god Loki and the giantess Angrboda.
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the
death of a number of major figures, including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki, the occurrence of
various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water.
Sol and Mani are the beings who drive the Sun and Moon in their courses through the sky. Sol and Mani were sister
and brother. Because their father, Mundilfari, had named his siblings according to the work of the gods, „Sun“ and
„Moon“, the gods became angry, and they took the two children to guide the Sun and Moon in their paths.
Sol had to travel at great speed, pursued by a wolf named Skoll who would eventually devour her. The boy, Mani,
was forced to guide the course of the Moon, also followed by a wolf named Hati.
The Vikings believed that when the two wolves caught up with the Sun and Moon, they would swallow them and all
the stars would disappear from the sky. It would be a signal that Ragnarök, this huge battle between the forces of
good and the forces of evil, was about to begin, and that the end of the world was at hand.
Shintaro Miyake appropriates the gods and heroes of the Elder Edda 1) and the Icelandic Sagas in his unique playful
cartoon-like style of drawing. In doing so, the artist predefines his main motifs in pencil with any corrections becoming
part of his pictorial inventions. He then fills the lines with coloured pencil strokes, resulting in colour areas of an
intrinsically tight feel. The line, however, remains dominant in Shintaro Miyake's work, as the long, flowing limbs of his
figures may clearly illustrate.
For his exhibitions, Miyake often deals with site-specific characteristics or otherwise inspiring fictitious subjects,
translating these into his own visual language. He has staged Minotaur's fight with a sea monster in Italy (2004), the life
of Japanese fishermen in the olden days on the "art island" of Naoshima (2006), or the life of a beaver in the Sandra
and David Bakalar Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Miyake has also translated the event of the
Football World Cup in a fantastically humorous exhibition at Gerhardsen Gerner in 2006, and has conjured up
„Egypt“ at Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo in 2008.
For further information, please contact Marina Gerner–Mathisen, Gerhardsen Gerner, Oslo: firstname.lastname@example.org,
T: +47 21 91 01 91, opening hours Wed–Fri 12–5pm, Sat 12–4pm
or Maike Fries, Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin: email@example.com, T: +49 30 69 51 83 41, opening hours
Wed–Sat 11am–6pm or visit our website at http://www. gerhardsengerner.com
1) The Poetic Edda, also known as Sæmundar Edda or the Elder Edda, is a collection of Old Norse poems from
the Icelandic medieval manuscript Codex Regius ("Royal Book"). Along with the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the
most expansive source on Norse mythology (comp. Wikipedia, "Edda", June 2013).
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Shintaro Miyake is a representative of the Japanese New Pop. The work of his generation of artists is characterized by simple,
clear-cut motifs, a mostly buoyant mood, great craftsmanship, and accomplished play with colours. It has been strongly
influenced by an affluent society, the mounting power of the media, and their ever-present output of manga and anime. Only
when compared to the traditional high-arts of Japan does the criticism levelled at the American style Japanese culture by the
New Pop artists become apparent. Despite of the international success enjoyed by some of the artists and the visual airiness
of their paintings, theirs is an art firmly rooted in sub-culture, and still defines itself in terms of this heritage.
In Arrival Day, Shintaro Miyake confronts the viewer with another conquest. This time it is not situated as far back in time as the
Viking Age, but in the future, where an alien invasion takes place in a modern Asian city. From the black background of the sky
arises a light coloured cityscape with lines depicting doors, windows and towers. Only the advertisement billboards are
illuminated by colours. Small and huge sized spaceships fly all around, and some reveal mostly smiling red octopus-like aliens.
The inhabitants of the city seem afraid of the octopus invaders. They try to escape in a wild, screaming panic. The entire scene
suggests the chaotic life in a city, emphasised by the arrival of the alien ships.