Kenji Inoue’s fantastical paintings swirl with cryptic imagery. Teeming with otherworldly landscapes, anthropomorphized animals, and confounding abstractions, the Japan-based artist creates open works—objects molded and changed via the interpretation of the viewer. The work is authored by Inoue, but only completed upon individual explanation. As such, Inoue invites his audience to invent narratives and draw conclusions based on subjectivity, insisting that his paintings should be primarily felt or experienced rather than seen.
In Usagizake, a small oil painting on canvas, Inoue imagines a quaint scene in which two white rabbits appear to drink tea. One with a cup, the other with a pitcher, the pair is stripped of detail, but the animals sit expressively, leaning and gesturing as if in conversation. The painterly background, a colorful whirl of ochre, teal, and eggplant, is not suggestive of time or place. Instead the viewer is left with an enigmatic tableau, the scenario around which is flexible, adaptable, and entirely invented by the preconceived notions of the viewer. Through the hazy and hypnotic scene, the artist invites his audience to reflect on their subconscious and experience the painting in a new and completely personal way.