PORTLAND, Ore. September 1, 2019 – Eutectic Gallery is honored to present Shoji Satake’s KAPOW! Finding Heros in the Age of Trump, an international collaboration produced in the historical birthplace and world capital of porcelain, Jingdezhen, China. The opening reception will be held Friday, September 6th, 6-9 p.m., with the exhibitions on view Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., through September 28th.
For KAPOW! Satake has collaborated with Master Huang Fei (Jingdezhen, China) and a host of Master craftsmen, artists, and students to create a series of vessels and tiles true to the millennium-old process of Chinese porcelain production, but with a distinctly American and contemporary twist. Rendered in the Chenghua style of blue and white decoration, the works depict a new roster of superheroes rising up against hate and misogyny as personified by Donald Trump and perpetuated by his Tweets. To elaborate on the conceptual underpinning of the project, Satake writes,
Presently, I’m appalled at the lack of decorum and civility that persists with the man we call our president. Growing up as an immigrant in the United States, I believed that this country was the beacon of democracy and opportunities, [w]here past leaders of the greatest nation in the world (in spite of their imperfections and character flaws) were held in high regards as one of our many heroes and role models. As a parent to two young multi-racial children, I look at the current climate/state of affairs in the United States thru a lens that seems to get distorted by the day. I wonder what kind of a country we are leaving for future generations.
Comic book heroes have played the role of good vs. evil as early as the 1930’s and is the central theme of most comics today. The meme about “what Stan Lee has taught me” seems very appropriate for our current toxic political climate. “Hating people because they are different is wrong. Embracing differences is right. If you’re strong, it is your duty to protect the weak. Using power to hurt others is evil. Using power to help others is heroic.”
Each vessel is a comic book frame in-the-round, with masked and armored women of great strength landing right hooks and body slamming Trump, cutting off his nasty rhetoric and absurd declarations. Instead of the box line frame typical to comics, scenes are rimmed – along the neck and foot of each jar, vase, or bottle – with resplendent Yuan and Ming motifs of florals, vines, shells and a host of other decorative patterns.
Merging east with west and ancient with modern, Satake has created a series of work that encapsulates the hope he maintains for our country to stand for good and defeat evil. The collaboration is also a poignant reminder of the connections that exist between peoples, regardless of boundaries, (man-made or natural), politics, or imaginary lines on a map – a world not limited by physical boundaries.
This exhibition is dedicated to my kids and future generations of arts enthusiasts. [It represents] a diversity of ideas and people joining together to create work that celebrates history and combines the elements of many points of views. I would suggest this is an example of the real world we live in or the world we want to live in. I hope we can all find or inspire to be heroes in this age of Trump.