Hajime Mizutani is Japanese artist and site-specific monochrome drawings form the basis of his artistic practice. His work examines expression: the act of expression, what it means to be expressed or not expressed, things that have been expressed, those who express.

His recent exhibitions include "Behavior as Nature" at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2019), "Representation and Light", Kagawa (2018), "Railroad Siding 2017" at an ex-supply center of school meals in Tokorozawa, Saitama and "Setouchi Triennale" at the former Awashima Junior High School, Kagawa (2013).

The artist was born in 1976 in Mie, Japan, and has a post graduate degree from Tama Art University, Japan.

selected images

Photograph by Kanako Ishii
2019, Charcoal and Paper, 370.0×652.0cm, Exhibition: Behavior as Nature at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin, Germany)

This drawing exist together with the space or an environment. The situation of this room changes the face by a light condition at all time. This space having big windows is face the street. So anybody can enjoy this artwork at all time that is not only gallery opening hours, but also night time and every morning too. Also this room works as the frame of this art work. A people can see the structure of this room clearly in the installation “Nostalgia”. That’s mean this drawing works as the frame of this room too.

This is the part of Hajime Mizutani Solo Exhibition “Behavior as Nature”. Generally human maybe can't behave as a nature. Especially, except a baby, we can't see anything as a nature. Our eyes always are together with a purpose or words. What is “to see” as a nature? This kind of Mizutani's series try to show the non-artificial scenery to a visitor.

Photograph by Kanako Ishii
Between Visible and Invisible
2019, Framed Drawing (4H pencil on paper) and the Gallery, Gallery size: 600.0×1225.0cm (wall hight: 345.0cm) / Frame size: 132.0×102.0×4.0cm / Drawing size: 100.0×70.0cm, Exhibition: Behavior as Nature at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin, Germany)

Drawing of "Between Visible and Invisible" is made by very light-colored strokes of 4H pencil. Though artists who are participated in Artist-in-Residence Program of Künstlerhaus Bethanien stay in the White Cube (their studios), Through this installation, visitors of this installation are expected to notice that White Cube itself is beautiful and a material to think about an art, architecture, society, culture and so on enough without an artwork.

This installation try to show this very simple White Cube gallery itself together with a detail of this very light-colored drawing. Visitors seeing this installation “Between Visible and Invisible” might be able to feel and to think what a white cube are exposing.

Photograph by Mikuto Tanaka
Representation and Light
2018, Charcoal and Paper, Location: Building of Processed Marine Products on Takamatsu City Central Wholesale Market (Takamatsu city, Kagawa, Japan)

The sea scape (Setonaikai) is just outside of a window. Some people said “Is this the Tsunami of 11th March 2011?”.

Photograph by H. Motoyama
View of The Blind Area
2016, Charcoal and Paper, Exhibition: Sounds that Grow the Rice (Omachi-city, Nagano, Japan)

A traditional Japanese-style house that had been relocated to the top of Mt. Takagari was the venue of the drawing body artwork "View of the Blind Area", filling the space of an 18-tatami room. From this location you can see a vista of the whole Northern Japanese Alps, from Mount Hakuba in the north to Mount Jonen in the south.

Hajime Mizutani is a filtering device.

During the 70 days of his stay in Asahi AIR, he visited various historical sites, local museums, temples and shrines in Omachi city by bike, deepening his knowledge of the vegetation, geology, and water veins in the area to sift the environment through himself. By the accumulation of the drawings of this 'Hajime Mizutani filter', the work “View of the Blind area” appeared in an old traditional Japanese house at the top of Mount Takagari. He positions “View of the Blind area” as a part of the series “Drawing Body”. The somewhat sorcerous, charcoal-drawn pattern on a giant sheet of paper unfolds three-dimensionally to appear like an ocean or mountain range. Describing this “Drawing Body” as a method in between painting and sculpture, he explains that it could be an electrocardiogram of his mental and physical condition and the surrounding environment.There is no specific or individual message, but as a result of the whole body of action and perception sifted through the ‘Hajime Mizutani filter’, his art is 'expressed'.

[HYOGEN] [Express/Expression]
[1] the act of saying internal, psychological and subjective thoughts or emotions in external and objective form. or, the resulting display of those thoughts: facial expression, gestures, icons, and language. Especially artistic representation such as literature, music, painting and sculpture.
[2] to be shown, and to show, on the surface.

Daijirin Dictionary, 3rd edition

In the broader sense, an ‘expression’ is a general act, including various things such as a letter to someone, a smile on a child’s face, a new year’s resolution, and so on and so forth. We express not only to others, but also to our future selves, and in so doing we recognize ourselves anew and learn about our environment.
To live is always a repetition of experiencing and expressing, and the 'Hajime Mizutani filter' is well aware of that fact. That is the very reason he is determined to never stop expressing, and through that his work's purity increases.

Sosei Sato, Asahi AIR coordinator

Real Image of The Ghost
2014, A4 paper, Exhibition: “quadruple track” (GENDAI HEIGTS Gallery Den / Tokyo, Japan)

The art work made by a photo and the text that is written about a contrast between the history about Laborde Head (part of sculpture of the Parthenon stands) and a plastic surgery. Both those histories were together with a war. Though so many plaster figures of Laborde Head are in the world today, they have a nose repaired. Actually the fake nose were removed from the model of Laborde Head in Musée du Louvre about 10 years ago. Of course we can see the Laborde Head's nose in art supply shops (in Japan) today too.

Overhead the clouds
Look to me like rippling waves;
Were the fishers here,
‘Which is sea, and which is sky?’
I would ask, and they’d reply.

2013, Pencil on Paper, 272.0×550.0cm, Exhibition: Setouchi Triennale (Awashima, Mitoyo-city, Kagawa, Japan)

Photograph by Daisuke Yamada
2011, Lighting, Dimmer and Sound-proof chamber Exhibition: Violence and Universe (island ATRIUM, Chiba, Japan)

This is a work that experiences extremely small light in a totally dark soundproof room. Nothing can be seen without exposing the eyes to darkness for at least 15 minutes. Viewers come and go between "visible" and “invisible”.

Photograph by Daisuke Yamada
I'm not in the place where you think I am.
I'm in the place where you don't think I am.
2010, 6 plaster balls, Location: Gallery MOMO Ryogoku (Tokyo, Japan)

Goddess starting from heaven
2010, Pencil on Paper, 272.0×272.0cm, Location: 3331 ARTS CHIYODA (Tokyo, Japan)

Photograph by Daisuke Yamada
2010, Pencil on Paper, 272.0×272.0cm, Location: Gallery MoMo (Tokyo, Japan)

Photograph by Tadasu Yamamoto
It is made so that a dream is awake (DETAIL)
2009, Carcoal and Paper, 500.0×500.0cm, Location: The Site of Seibu Railway Co.,Ltd. Old Tokorozawa Car Factory (Tokorozawa-city, Saitama, Japan)

Photograph by Daisuke Yamada

Erect Room II
2009, Charcoal and Paper, Exhibition: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Niigata, Japan)

Photograph by Norihiro Ueno
Myth Is Language
2009, Pencil on Paper and stainless steel frame, 241.0×362.0cm

Very short lines are accumulated on white paper. Delicate gradations are added and the lines overlap and pile up, eventually filling up the square sheet. When one piece of paper is full, the next is added and these line-filled units are linked until there are 24 frames. The lines proliferate as if propelled by centrifugal force, and the completed work looks like part of a larger picture that continues to expand infinitely. The individual lines that make up the proliferating units are controlled, however, and not subject to impulse or inertia. They emerge from the artist's confrontation with the world. They do not depend on individual experience or memory but are laid down on the white paper as self-disciplined entitities. The total accumulation of these lines, however, creates an overall image of chaotic, turbulent, swirling forms of energy, making quite a different impression than the parts seen in isolation. It arouses a myriad of associations in the mind of the viewer.
  Mizutani has been making pictures like this with short overlapping lines with pencil and charcoal on white paper for the last few years. His pictures are developed through repetition of the very basic act of drawing lines. A sense of restrained force and high tension produces an expressive and dynamic whole. The fertile imagery emerges from interaction between order and chaos, control and expressiveness. As viewers change position, they are able to capture glimpses of the layered structure here and there in the pictorial space, revealing the artist's creative impulse and how he went about forming the work.

KONDO Yuki, Curator, Aomori Contemporary Art Centre
Text from a catalog 'The Vision of Contemporary Art 2010'

Photograph by Keizo Konishi
Event (Working View)
2009, Pencil on Paper, 352.0×352.0cm, Location: Old theater 'YORIIZA' (Kamiyama, Tokushima, Japan)

Photograph by Tadasu Yamamoto
Development (DETAIL)
2008, Carcoal and Paper, 272.0×272.0cm, Location: The Site of Seibu Railway Co.,Ltd. Old Tokorozawa Car Factory (Tokorozawa-city, Saitama, Japan)

2007, Carcoal and Paper, Location: Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA, USA)

He was Looking at The Forest
2005, 20 minutes

2004, Charcoal and Paper, Location: Aomori Contemporary Art Centre

Photograph by Daisuke Yamada
Flip the heart, Flower, bottom of existential well
2003, Conte, Charcoal Pencil and Paper, 240.0×560.0×860.0cm, Location: INAX GALLER 2, Tokyo, Japan

Photograph by Daisuke Yamada
July 2002
2002, Conte, Charcoal Pencil and Paper, Location: INAX GALLER 2, Tokyo, Japan

October 2001
2001, Conte, Charcoal Pencil and Paper, 360.0×600.0cm

September 2001
2001, Conte, Charcoal Pencil and Paper, 400.0×270.0cm

Route No.6
2001, Conte, Charcoal Pencil and Paper on Wood panel, 212.0×264.0cm

Shibuya Tokyo
2001, Conte on Paper, 180.0×233.0cm

Reference Materials