Yuken Teruya


February 19- March 26


Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased to present Yuken Teruya’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.

Teruya connects his ancestry rooted in Okinawan tradition and relates it to the American experience.  Best known for his body of work cutting trees out of paper bags, this exhibition extends the artist’s vocabulary by using the precision of stenciling and translating it to an American street idiom in his graffiti flowers which are spray painted directly on the gallery walls.  In his bingata portraits, Teruya utilizes the local Okinanwan craft, bingata, made popular by kimonos, and presents images of past and present icons- men of different eras and worlds, connected through an idealism and belief in heroism. Teruya chooses these powerful figures- ranging from Obama to Geronimo to Ultraman to communicate ideas of land and occupation, state and territory; the relationship between the Protector and those being protected, specifically pointing to the U.S. military presence in Okinawa.  He challenges the concept of the hero by placing Emperor Hirohito in the series of images, which is taken as a controversial statement in his homeland of Japan.

The small gallery is comprised of Teruya’s video installation which shows footage of small paper boats, bearing flags of various communities located within his adopted neighborhood in Brooklyn, down a city street gutter flooded with water.  Boxes and bags are again present; used as stencils themselves, and also to serve as a reminder of popular culture as seen in the remnants of packaging which once housed mass produced consumer goods, and for the artist, give a glimpse into American life. Linen fabric is draped from the ceiling light frame in the main gallery, and on the fabric Teruya infuses a pattern with dyed images that represent the fascinating mix of cultures between Okinawa and the U.S. culture as found on military bases located there.


Teruya expresses the fluidity of cultural information and identity.  His work utilizes the history of familiar Japanese art forms, bingata and origami; and places them in relationship to the popular and contemporary cultural identity most strongly influenced by common American cultural forms, graffiti and advertising.  Teruya uses the symbolism of flowers, birds, waves, and bicycles in all of his works.  This simple visual poetry focuses most on the feeling of movement; and in turn best relates the feeling of how fluid cultural identity can be.

Born in Okinawa, Japan, Yuken Teruya received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2001. He work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia including: The Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, Japan(2009); The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2009, The Japan Society, New York (2008); The Museum of Arts & Design, New York (2008); The FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2008); Asia Society, New York (2007); Thermocline of Art - ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2007); the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2007); Greater New York at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, NY (2005); Yokohama International Triennial, Yokohama, Japan (2005); and Fuchu Biennale at the Fuchu Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2004). His work is included in collections such as: FLAG Art Foundation, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Daiichi Seimei Museum, Tokyo; Seattle Art Museum, WA; Saatchi Collection, London;  Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum and others.

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