Critics’ Picks

Nanami Hori, Timing of the ZABUTON, 2019, oil on canvas, 13 x 9 1/2''.

Brussels

Tokimeki Memorial

La Maison de Rendez-vous
23 Avenue Jef Lambeaux
August 1–August 24, 2019

Koji Nakano was seventeen, Yusuke Abe was one, and Nanami Hori not yet born when the hit 1994 dating simulation video game Tokimeki Memorial was released. Their group show, curated by XYZ Collective, makes no reference to it other than in its title. This is fitting, since all three artists borrow images and phrases from the realms of kabuki, video games, manga, or anime, yet stop just short of clearly naming their sources. Nanami Hori’s vibrant oil painting Timing of the ZABUTON, all works 2019, features a cartoonish samurai frozen in flight over a pillow pile. He wields a katana with his right hand, arms extended in a fighting stance, legs spread at the height of a parabolic hop. His silent scream is echoed in an adjacent work, Koji Nakano’s open-mouthed bust Shimada, whose face and Geisha hairstyle are formed from thin, ridged pieces of plaster. From every angle but the front, the sculpture is unrecognizable as a human figure, resembling instead a column of disparate shapes. Yusuke Abe’s assemblages share the haphazard quality of Nakano’s inchoate portraits. In Sometimes appear from the bushes, overlapping drawings of monsters and labyrinths fight for space on a wood panel with a pencil, an eraser, a Gameboy Color, and a penguin playing card, all emerging from a sticky green backdrop like the contents of an unruly school desk. Abe, Nakano, and Hori’s works together devise a wistful world, a babbling childhood language, and a fantastical inquiry into the development of one’s personhood.