Yusuke Asai’s first solo exhibition in India, at ARTISANS’, Sentient Beings Dissolve, is born from a longing to connect deeply with nature, and through it, with a global universe. It taps a primal consciousness that resonates with indigenous arts around the world.
For this exhibition, Asai is inspired by the word Tokeru meaning “dissolve”, to express the interconnectedness of all living beings. As they die, they break down, and fuse with one another. This poignant awareness of the cycle of life – dying, dissolving, breaking down, fusing, merging, and then regenerating, comes from a deeply personal realization through the pandemic of recent years.
Yusuke Asai grew up in hyper-urban Tokyo, yearning to connect with the natural world. Today, he uses soil from the earth as his chosen medium. A self-taught artist, Asai’s “earth paintings” share a tribal-primitive aesthetic. They come alive with natural beings, fantastical plants, animals, humans, and imaginary hybrids, that morph dynamically in Asai’s very act of creation. They emerge nested, one within the other, like micro ecosystems within a larger universe.
The paintings are made with a natural medium – the earth, soil, or “dirt”. In 2008, Asai began using soil to create “earth paintings”, often collected from the site-specific location of the painting. Asai has since experimented with other spontaneous materials, making art with non-conventional everyday mediums like dust, flour, and masking tape.
"[What] mattered to me was being able to select painting materials and a location that matched my urgent desire to paint - right here and now. I started to gradually notice that I considered whatever responds to this desire as painting materials, not necessarily limited to what’s sold at an art supply store. I wasn’t deliberately trying to do something strange, but rather as I walked around looking for the most appropriate material in an environment, the soil around me, masking tape, and white road marking paint all became my strong allies, and that feeling turned into a conviction in the course of working as an artist."
He embraces the impermanence of his medium. "There is a desire for artwork to be permanent, but to try and keep it forever would mean that my painting would become unnatural. According to Asai, “when I erase the painting it is sad, but within the context of the natural world, everything is temporary.” His work in essence explores the cycle of life - themes of origin, growth, regeneration, and renewal, which are central to the survival of the world as we know it.