HIRAKU Project Vol.14 Naofumi Maruyama Kicking the Water: Sengokuhara

2023.01.28 — 2023.07.02

Dates: Sat., January 28 – Sun., July 2, 2023

Venue: Pola Museum of Art, Atrium Gallery



The HIRAKU Project is a series of exhibitions introducing contemporary artworks by recipients of the Pola Art Foundation Grant for Emerging Artists. As the 14th exhibition in the series, we are pleased to present works by Naofumi Maruyama.


Since his debut as an artist in the 1990s, Naofumi Maruyama has consistently devoted himself to painting. One of Japan’s preeminent artists, Maruyama has held numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, and his work has been acquired by many of Japan’s major museums. Unlike the traditional method of painting in which the artist applies paint to a standing canvas, Maruyama makes his works by placing a water-soaked cotton cloth on the floor and approaching them horizontally. The boundaries between the shapes blend together in the pictures, which intentionally incorporate bleeding and blurring, and together with the brilliant coloring of the acrylic paint create an indistinct, dream-like realm.


The title of this exhibition is Kicking the Water: Sengokuhara. Just as the tranquil scenes reflected in the water’s surface are destroyed when we kick a puddle, our footing can sometimes be so unstable that the world we know has the potential to be turned upside down. We are once again reminded of this fact by our experiences with earthquakes, climate change, and the pandemic. The exhibition title conveys Maruyama’s awareness of the uncertainty
of the world and our own existence.


Similarly, the exhibition venue is enveloped in a thin luminous veil. Inspired by Maruyama’s paintings, the architect Jun Aoki, a close friend of the artist’s, devised an exhibition structure made of layered moire fabric that resembles the water’s surface. The Sengokuhara area lay at the bottom of a lake in ancient times. As we experience this space created by Moriyama and Aoki, we feel a slight anxiety as if we are walking on water and being enticed into an unknown world.

A study for a new work, 2022

Copyright the Artist. Courtesy of ShugoArts.

Naofumi Maruyama(left)


Born in Niigata, Japan in 1964. Maruyama currently lives and works in Tokyo. He has become one of the most important painters in Japan since the 1990s. He has been a Professor in the Painting Department at the Musashino Art University since 2000. Maruyama received The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists in 2008. Selected exhibitions: Kicking the Water, ShugoArts, Tokyo, 2022; FLOWING, Wooson Gallery, Daegu, 2017; GROUND2: Talking About Paintings, Talking About Seeing, Musashino Art University Museum & Library, Tokyo, 2016; Niigata Creations ‒ Museum in Motion, Niigata City Art Museum, Niigata, 2014; Floating Boat, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Aichi, 2011; the front in the back, Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo, 2008.



Jun Aoki(right)


Architect. Born in 1956 in Yokohama, Japan and graduated from Tokyo University with a Master of Architecture in 1982. Established his own eponymous practice, Jun Aoki and Associates (re-organized as AS in 2020) in 1991. Minister of Education’s Art Encouragement Prize in 2005. Architectural Institute of Japan Annual Award by Fukushima Lagoon Museum in 1999, and by Kyoto City Museum (Commonly used name: Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art) in 2021. He has been the Director of the museum since April 2019.

left : Copyright the Artist. Courtesy of ShugoArts.

Photo by Shigeo Muto


right : © Masakazu Yoshiba