Nagai Mie  


Chiyo, chiyo, chiyo is the sound birds make in Japanese. Artist, Nagai Mei, ascribes this sound to a gaggle of dark suited businessmen as they saunter down the street. Each of her paintings has a few words painted on them. They are usually snippets of conversation - 'Flathead (fish) were they?' 'One more to go', or 'liar'. Words uttered in the street and overheard by the artist.

Nagai Mei has an uncanny knack to capture what is unique about the everyday life in Japan. Nagai is a Japanese artist with training in London and now based in Europe. She has an outsider's eye for the unusual and an insider's knowledge of life in Japan, which makes her work particularly poignant. Her exhibition is a personal dairy of a day in Japan.

Around the walls are 23 panels, which make her visual record of the day. Each panel has a line drawing of an incident, a person met or an episode glimpsed. Each image has a few words katakana or hiragana recording part of a conversation or sound.

Nagai Mei sees the experience as a 'safari', a journey of exploration. To celebrate this expedition-like aspect of the exhibition she has included a huge, life-size, charcoal drawing on paper of an African elephant. It dominates the center of the room and you circumnavigate it as you follow the image series around the gallery walls.

Her drawing/paintings are very simple. On shiny white panels are black outlines in enamel paint of people and events. These spare outlines contain no unnecessary detail. It is the simplicity of the work that gives it a special power of acute observation. Nagai Mei captures the essence of urban contemporary Japan. Her works turn ordinary events into extraordinary cultural insights.

'Zero/Zero Safari' through April 28 Gallery Deux Tel: 03.3717.0020 2-10-17 Kaninokizaka, Meguro-Ku Open 11:00 18:00 closed Sunday, Monday, Holidays Nearest station Toritsu-Daigaku, Tokyu Toyoko Line, 15 mins walk north on Kan-nana Dori then two blocks west on Komazawa Dori.