Altman Siegel present Shinpei Kusanagi – Something is happening which is not happening at all

by | Oct 6, 2020 | Blog post

Altman Siegel is pleased to announce Something is happening which is not happening at all a solo presentation of works by Tokyo-based artist Shinpei Kusanagi. The exhibition takes place online and features new paintings that embrace possibilities for energy and movement within a world standing still. The exhibition is on view until October 31st.

“Dancingiseverything,” continued the Sheep Man. “Danceintip-topform. Dancesoitallkeepsspinning. Ifyoudothat, wemightbeabletodosomethingforyou. Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays.”

– Haruki Murakami
Dance Dance Dance (Vintage International) (p.86). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

The title for the exhibition is drawn from lyrics of the song “Take Time” by the band “The Books.” A melodic meditation on time, the line reflects the sentiment Kusanagi tries to capture through his paintings while simultaneously echoing current societal energies, specifically the collapse and coexistence of motion and stillness.

Kusanagi stains untreated canvases with layers of translucent color then incorporates improvisational brushstrokes in vivid hues, markings that materialize from rapid motions as well as pooling stillness. The compositions hover on the surface and then move into deep space. His atmospheric washes of color leave the paintings devoid of specific detail, conjuring memories of time and place rather than precise representation. Of memory, the artist once wrote: “it is all fatally destined to be washed away.”

Kusanagi noted that while in quarantine it seemed as though “everybody had no idea what to do without any ‘correct’ answers.” The upheaval of our regular mechanisms prompted many to long for a return to “normalcy.” For others, however, the anxieties that drove our previous states of reality felt arguably more inescapable and dangerous. When the global apparatus grinded to a halt for the first time in living memory, some people experienced a taste of freedom from their collective dependence on existing systems and opportunity for personal reflection and growth.

For Kusanagi 2020 has revealed the impossibility of our former trajectories and provided crucial space for clarity and reawakening. He felt a link to his younger self, when he “painted for nothing,” and that feeling, according to Kusanagi, “was not bad at all. We have to dance as long as the music plays, even when nobody cares we are dancing.”

For more information on the gallery and its exhibition program visit