in Tokyo / Japan
19.03.2022 - 16.04.2022 00:00
Graham Little

Taka Ishii Gallery is pleased to present new and recent works by British artist Graham Little. This exhibition marks his first solo exhibition in Japan and Asia, featuring 11 works produced between 2017 and 2022.

“We arrive in the midst of things, pick up clues, try and put something together. That something exists in the eternal present of the painting – a present that nevertheless unravels in time, as we see more – but it also seems to point us towards an idea of the past, a constructed phantasm different to the real past.”
Martin Herbert, “The Beautiful Ones”
Graham Little: Inside the Water Sleep, Alison Jacques Gallery, 2019

Graham Little’s pale-toned, melancholic and graceful work derives from his first encounter with a copy of Vogue in the mid-80s. In the years since, the London-based artist has elaborated on this early fascination with depictions of self-assured and conventionally beautiful women, rearticulating images from vintage fashion magazines into meticulous pencil or gouache works on paper that takes months to complete. The resulting compositions, surreal and dream-like, interrogate the perception of beauty and the relation between seer and seen, while negotiating femininity as it is framed by the male gaze. Furthermore, the vignettes contain a series of intense, simultaneous oppositions: beauty and decay, emptiness and presence, vulnerability and strength, animate bodies and the spaces they occupy.

Originating in 1980s issues of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and the German style magazine Burda Moden, the solitary figures of Little’s delicate domestic scenes exist within their own independent realities. But while the protagonists are under the control of their surroundings, spaces in which every mundane detail is treated with care, the presence of surrealism amongst the stillness allows the viewer to indulge themselves in a multitude of potential scenarios. ‘His figures are positioned like chess pieces,’ says curator Laura Smith of Little’s work, ‘each imbued with a profound potential, in a time and place that is just out of cognitive reach.’ The narratives – built from objects, artefacts, chic décor and landscapes – invite the viewer to play the part of the voyeur, as the backgrounds that frame the figures feel like gateways into dreams.

Graham Little was born in 1972 in Dundee, U.K, and lives and works in London. Little received a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee in 1995 and an MA from Goldsmiths College, London in 1997. His work has been included in numerous museum shows at such institutions as ‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’, Hayward Gallery, London (2021); V&A Dundee (2020); Somerset House, London (2020); The FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2019); Kunstmuseum Bochum (2017); Manifesta 11, Zurich, curated by Christian Jankowski (2016); ‘Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers’, curated by Peter Eleey and Stuart Comer, MoMA PS1, Long Island, New York (2016-2017); and MoMA, New York, where he featured in ‘Drawing Now: Eight Propositions’ (2002-2003), curated by Laura Hoptman.

Gallery hours Tues-Sat 12 am – 6 pm

The gallery will implement necessary measures to prevent coronavirus infections.


Taka Ishii Gallery
complex665 3F, 6-5-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku
106-0032 Tokyo


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