Rinne Samsara | Megumi Nagai

Inspired by Japanese fables and Edo period artists, Japanese born artist Nagai Megumi’s exquisite renderings of inner fantasies reveal a passionate and humorous soul; a gentle person of enormous strength. Megumi’s statement of process is reminiscent of the great surrealists, “sometimes an unexpected occurs, and a surprising relationship develops between the wood and me. So until I complete a work, I do not know what will result.” What does result, again and again, are artworks of unusual beauty and power, humorous and true.

Elizabeth A. Sackler,
President, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation

Onishi Gallery is pleased to announce the solo exhibition of Nagai Megumi entitled “Rinne samsara”. In her most recent work, Nagai revisits the spirituality of her native Japan and the legacy of Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, evoking her own faith as she endeavors to give form to the Buddhist concept of Rinne, or rebirth.

While in her previous pieces Nagai has sought to resurrect the fables and mythology of traditional Japanese folklore, the visions of death and creation depicted in her latest work capture something far more immaterial⎯the essence of a living being. Inextricable from the blocks of mahogany and burl on which they are painted, these pieces express visually the cycle of the soul as it turns, the wooden contours of the grain imbuing each with the inimitable uniqueness of life.

Rinne is impermanence made physical; at a glance orderly and symmetrical, but, upon closer inspection, wild, unpredictable, and freely flowing from one fragile moment to another. It is a true portrait of nature’s contempt for edifice, its insistence on chaos, and its limitless potential for startling beauty.

Born in Japan in 1951, Nagai Megumi received her degree from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1975. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Rinne IV