“Priming water (flat characters)” by NISHIMURA Yumi from 20230610 to 20230702





Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery is pleased to announce “Priming water (Flat characters),” a solo exhibition by NISHIMURA Yumi from 10th of June to 2nd of July.

NISHIMURA Yumi was born in Tokyo in 1989, and graduated her Ph.D at Kyoto City University of Arts in 2019 and has been a lecturer at Onomichi City University, Faculty of Arts and Culture, Department of Fine Arts since 2022.

This exhibition will feature recent paintings and sculptures from 2015 to 2023.

Artist’s website



Flat characters ⇄ risen figuratives ⇄ bumpy matière


Flat characters, part of the title of this exhibition, is a term which is proposed by Max Lüthi (1903-1991), a scholar of European folklore from Bern, Switzerland. One of his arguments in his study of fairy tales (German: Märchen) is that folk tales and nursery rhymes have a common structure that is not limited by language, region, or time period. The concept of flat characters is that the characters in fairy tales are all flat, with no unnecessary ornamentation.


They say, “He was the most beautiful young man I have ever seen,” but the detail is not specifically described, but is omitted. Similarly, it has been noted that omissions are made regarding the emotions of the characters in the fairy tale.


In the Russian fairy tale “The Snow Girl” (Снегурочка), which is quoted in the title of NISHIMURA’s work, an old childless couple raises their daughter Kasha, who is transformed from a snowman, but one day, while playing over a campfire with friends, her body melts and she disappears suddenly. However, the explanatory descriptions of cause and effect, the inevitability of the story, and the shifting emotions of the daughter, Kasha, are omitted.


NISHIMURA’s work is based on this omitted “in-between” for a long time. However, NISHIMURA’s main focus is not to fill in the gaps in the narrative by painting, but to develop her paintings from the existence of these “in-between” themselves. When Nishimura began working on this theme, she says, “At first I was immersed in the story, but then I gradually was primed to the painting. At the same time, some of the images, such as the human head and the buttocks of the dog, remain on the canvas as images, and her attitude of describing them as “something like coordinates” can be said to guarantee her pragmatism as a painter and the quality of the existence of the work itself.


Regarding the technique, the “1st Volume” and “2nd Volume” have different approaches. In the former, the meaning of the image is shaken and distanced from its coordinates by applying fluid paints in order to gradually return to the painting. Regarding the latter, fluid matière is used only in the early stages of the painting in order to keep the semantics and the image until the end. On the other hand, if the shaking and distancing become excessive, the coordinates are lost and “passed,” and the artist repeatedly draws new coordinates (more ambiguous than the symbolic image of the first part) and resets them again.


This variation of the two approaches is done in order to keep a spiritual and existential balance between them and inside her.


The relationship between the painting and the artist’s existence is unique, as the link of meaning emerges not from the story itself, but from the act or effect of its omission, and from the material itself, the paint. While folklore is both economical (eliminating unnecessary ornamentation) and functional (having an explicit role), Nishimura’s work confronts the opposite, materiality.


The dichotomy of the air pockets lying in “in-between” in language and the matiere composed of actual material, the structure itself is independent and has no meaning.


However, Nishimura’s existential struggle to grasp the “coordinates” amidst the turbulence creates an “in-between” between the two structures, and the painting itself rise as something figurative and ambiguous. The painting itself seems to raise something figurative and ambiguous.