Goldfinch is thrilled to present our second solo exhibition with Minami Kobayashi, “Somewhere Not Here,” opening on Sunday November 6th (reception 3-6pm) and on view through Saturday, December 17th.
Spanning both Galleries 1 and 2, this new body of paintings by the London-based Kobayashi centers around themes of travel, and the strangeness, surreality and occasional feelings of loneliness and alienation that can come with being far away from familiar surroundings. Kobayashi, who was born in 1989 in Nagoya, Japan and received her MFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018, is drawn to moments that suggest something “beyond” what can be perceived with eyes alone: “I’m looking to capture something too weird to be real, something that I cannot see with my eyes or capture on camera…but I can tell it’s there.”
Kobayashi notes the influence of Japanese Yokai (ghost stories) on some of her paintings’ imagery and sense of atmosphere, as well as a contemporary sensitivity to the awesome power of nature to nurture as well as to destroy. “I grew up in the country with lots of nature disaster like typhoons and earthquakes. I have seen nature destroy people’s lives with tremendous power that no one could stop,” the artist notes. Animals also appear in her paintings, often in the form of dogs, hyenas, or spiders, and Kobayashi explains that she thinks of these animals symbolically, as humans taking different shapes or forms. “In my paintings…dogs are often symbolized as a mother figure, due to the shared attribute of gratuitous love. I love dogs…but I also want to explore parallels between their traits of loyalty and service, which are also expected of women in my country.”
Although the dreamlike quality of Kobayashi’s style of depiction lends a certain timelessness to the moments she paints–suggesting that they could be happening sixty years ago, or just yesterday–the appearance of smart phones in several of her works points to the artist’s acknowledgement that how we see and remember things nowadays often depends on how our cameraphones capture and display them. “For this show at Goldfinch, I have made paintings about the times when I was traveling somewhere and the smartphone was there to connect me with where I was. . . I have sometimes been so far from my loved ones, and the small square of a phone screen was the only window for me to be connected with them.” Kobayashi’s new paintings provide us with yet another point of connection: they are not a window, not a screen, not a mirror, but are instead an ingress where the otherworldly, the hallucinatory and the mundane and terrifying beauty of daily life seep through the cracks of our reality–or as Kobayashi herself puts it, they are “the places where stories begin.”