Outsider Art Exhibition Our Life is Our Art: Next Step, THE WORLD

Outsider Art Exhibition
Our Life is Our Art:
Next Step, THE WORLD

Monday, June 7 -
Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, including the tsunami and nuclear accident, and the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us how powerless the modern-day civilization that we have created is in the face of nature. Nevertheless, technology continues to advance and faith in globalism persists. Given that, how should we go about living our lives? John Lennon’s sentiment that “Our life is our art” is a straightforward description of how people should live their lives as living beings.
This exhibition is the third in the field of outsider art to be held at this venue. It poses the question of what it means to live as a human being and what real happiness is, approaching the question by exploring diverse forms of expression created by people with disabilities, who are seen by contemporary society as having handicaps. Disability art can convey the primal life force that people are born with. Isn’t it true that we have built our lives by communicating and connecting with others through expressing ourselves and by helping each other? This provides us with great inspiration as we work to create a sustainable future in our role as a part of nature. It helps us to think more deeply about society, culture, and our own physicality.
As with the past exhibitions, this show presents works that were carefully selected after the organizers themselves visited welfare institutions throughout Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Kyusu in the south, and got to know the twenty-nine artists. This time, we also share about an experimental project called “THE WORLD,” which is an attempt to create a ‘space for living’ that transcends art. We see it as the next step forward.

Exhibit Works, Artists Profile

  • "Queen of the Night and Black Eye" 2019

Runa Iizuka
Born in 1997.

Runa Iizuka has loved drawing ever since she was a little child. Drawing is the only expression method that fills the gaps in her heart. She started drawing bees around July 2014. She has been drawing bees ever since, but her horizons have gradually expanded and her heart, which is like a beehive, is beginning to expand. “I hope my drawings can fill the gaps in someone’s heart.” she says.


  • "A Big City Seen From the Night Sky" 2009

Born in 1991. Lives in Kumamoto Prefecture

Hironobu Matsumoto started drawing aged 2-3, and was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at the age of 3. Through elementary school, he showed a particular interest in living creatures (fish, insects, animals, etc.), outer space, and history, and enjoyed illustrated non-fiction and reference books. He is still a keen reader, and the books he finds in libraries or bookstores provide ideas and inspiration for his art, emerging as images created in line with his thoughts. When working, he selects appropriate colors without hesitation from a range of 300 color pencils and 100 water-based pens to produce elaborate, delicate, and colorful works without using any ruler, eraser, or correction fluid.


  • "K3" 2021

Affiliation: Atelier Ripehouse
Born in 1992. Lives in Osaka Prefecture. Began working at Atelier Ripehouse in 2009.

As someone with severe autism, Hidetaka Kaji has a variety of habits that he adheres to in his daily life. He has been attending art classes for eleven years, and one of his habits is to run colored pencils over paper. At one point, he started to cover the paper uniformly, and then achieved balance between colors. To the viewer, it’s obvious that he is deliberately creating a painting. He has some habits that are peculiar to autism, such as using both regular and colored pencils until they reach a certain length. To Kaji, creating art and making his pencils reach the same length are equally important. Perhaps to him, they both constitute works of art.


  • "Woman in Floral clothes" 2018

Affiliation: Atelier Ripehouse
Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1994.

Daiki Chazono, who has autism and was hyperactive when he was young, learned to paint from his father and has painted ever since. Initially, his images were inspired by Buddhist statuary and Kabuki, but, several years ago, he developed an interest in fashion and began to paint runway models. His delightful, unique drawings make use of pastels to depict the swaying of the models as they walk, blending his distinctive sense of style with the sophistication of high fashion. He dreams of becoming a professional painter. Being very fashionable himself, Chazono buys brand items with income from that art that he sells. That serves a one motivation for producing art.


  • "Untitled" 2019

Affiliation: Atelier Ripehouse
Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1992.

Katsunobu, who has autism, began oil painting in art class in his second year in junior high school. Until recently, his paintings consisted of grids with various colors made by applying multiple layers of paint, beginning by painting horizontally, and then once the paint had dried, painting vertically. This produced a surface with a bumpy texture, which, depending on the lighting, resembled woven linen. Recently, he has switched to paintings with horizontal stripes. Rather than painting individual stripes, he first paints an area, then paints over most of it in a different color, leaving just a stripe at the top. He continues this approach down the canvas, with the result that the thickness of the paint increases as you go down the painting. The overlapping of colors can be seen easily when his paintings are viewed from the side. The gradual transition from grid works to striped works represents his development as a painter.
  • "Blocks" 2020

Affiliation: Atelier Ripehouse
Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1977.

Yuka Yamane, who has Down syndrome, learned how to paint in painting class, which she attended for over fifteen years. During that period, she used markers or watercolors to slowly and painstakingly cover her paper with squares and triangles. Some of her works took nearly one year to finish. Today, she creates works at a welfare facility specializing in art production, and has changed her painting style, doing away with the grids of the past in favor of paintings with random brush strokes, imparting her work with a sense of spaciousness. Her work incorporates overlapping layers of many different colors and mixes vibrant hues with deep colors, creating an alluring painterly space with a mysterious sense of depth.


  • "Swallow" 2020

Affiliation: YELLOW
Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1990.Began working at YELLOW in 2009.

Kyoko Arita began to use a Pointillist approach in about 2010, painting motifs that she finds in pamphlets and illustrated reference books. She has a wonderful sense of humor that draws in everyone around her, but when she is painting, she achieves an amazing level of concentration. The motifs include items close at hand and seasonal themes, as well as motifs that express a spirit of mischievousness. Her Pointillist technique continues to develop, demonstrating increasing attention to detail year after year. Arita makes creative use of color in both the background and motifs, employing Pointillist color effects to produce works with complexity and multiple layers. Her powers of concentration and persistence make her works very intense, but they also somehow possess warmth and humor that convey the character of the artist.


  • "Animal" 2013

Affiliation: Katarubenomori Museum
Born in 1955.Began working at Katarubenomori Museum when it opened in 1994.

Yukitoshi Yoshida produces carefully painted works depicting creatures with a sense of humor. He selects animals, people, and scenery from magazines and photo books as his motifs. A mysterious space emerges in each work, with the shapes of the motifs only vaguely discernable. His strong desire to paint motivates him to overcome any difficulties to create art imbued with a sense of loving care towards the very act of painting. Such works appear friendly and familiar to the viewer, and have an uplifting effect.


  • "Tetsuko Watching on 「Tetsuko's Room」" 2017


Affiliation: SWING (Kyoto) since 2006

XL was born in 1967. After graduating junior high school, he started to work as a plasterer, but soon had to quit due to bullying. For the next 15 years, he suffered severely from social withdrawal. He now enjoys creative activities at SWING and is a volunteer with the “I will tell the way to go!” Kyoto bus route guidance service for tourists from all over the world.


  • "Untitled" 2014

Affiliation: Toushinkai

Born in Tsuyama, Okayama in 1971. Began working at Toushinkai in 2007. Kaguratani has always kept a keen eye out for things that fascinate him. When he finds something of interest around him, he captures it in his own artistic style, whether as an oil painting, watercolor painting, design, or sculpture. He works on several projects at the same, and there are many of his works-in-progress at the Toushinkai atelier.
  • "I hold it in my arm" 2014

Affiliation: Atelier YAMANAMI

Born in 1943. Lives in Shiga Prefecture. Began working at Atelier YAMANAMI in 1999. Masaru Inoue began seriously creating art when he turned 60. Earnest in everything he does, Inoue spends three hours a day for about three weeks carefully coloring in each canvas using only pencils. He keeps adding motifs like people, animals, and scenery until he finishes the work, usually a large piece, taller than a human being. Many people visit him and praise the works he has created, but he probably never expected such a response. However, the fact that he has discovered something that he can engross himself provides a sense of reward and joy every day, motivating him to produce one work after another with his own hands, as if creating a legacy of his own way of living.


  • "John & Shino" 2021

Affiliation: Matsusaka Challenged Place Hope Garden
Born in 2002. Lives in Mie Prefecture.

Ikkei Maeno began creating art at the atelier HUMAN-ELEMENT in 2015. He is an artist with developmental disabilities who depicts a world that is a mixture of his own imagination and people and events in the world that he finds interesting. He had previously created colorful works with permanent markers and similar tools, but in 2019, he started producing oil paintings, too. In 2017, his work was selected for posters advertising “* Vitali! Matsusakajin Show 2017-The hottest February in the world.” He won the 15th Glittering Art Competition Excellence Award, and, in 2020, also received the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare’s first Art Para Fukagawa grand prize.


  • "No tytle" 2020

Affiliation: Matsusaka Challenged Place Hope Garden
Born in 1994. Living in Mie at "Matsusaka Challenged Place Hope Garden" since 2013

Yukihito Okabe applies crayons, and sometimes acrylic paints, to canvases and then scratches off the crayon and paint with a needle. He considers what appears on canvases are simply a residue of his “real” art work, the lumps of crayon and paint shavings that he calls “Coroichi.” He has participated in group exhibitions in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Mie, as well as in Spain (Valencia). His work was exhibited at the Borderless Art Collection 2014 (Kawara Museum, Takahama, Aichi). He also held solo exhibitions in Ise and Nagoya.


  • "Thriller" 2014

Affiliation: maru
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1977. Began working at maru in 2008.

Naoyuki Omine began painting when he entered a facility around the age of twenty. The clearly defined lines in black felt-tipped pen in his art came about as a result of him forcefully suppressing involuntary movements. You find yourself unexpectedly caught off guard and drawn in by Omine’s level of commitment, in which he delicately controls the tip of the paint brush through an exertion of strength involving his entire body, to the point of causing internal bleeding in both arms. The images that he gradually brings to life on the drawing paper are equally powerful. He created the logomark for Yunus Japan, which was established in 2019.


  • "Regret and Dream" 2020

Affiliation: maru
Born in 1980. Lives in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Began working at maru in 2010.

Yukio Ishii completed the course in Japanese painting at Nara College of Arts. He is capable of a wide range of different types of brushwork, from realistic depictions to humorous illustrations. His illustrations grow in popularity every year. He has produced illustrations for children's books and his work has been used in official goods for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. In 2016, he created the original draft for the memorial monument Relier for the 40th anniversary of Fukuoka’s Tenjin Chikagai (Underground Shopping Mall).
Participating artists: 29 Artists

GOMA, Yoshiyasu Hirano, Yasuha Suzuki, Hidetaka Kaji, Daiki Chazono, Katsunobu, Yuka Yamane, Miruka, Kyoko Arita, Rikuto, Taki Nambu, Yukitoshi Yoshida, Yukihito Okabe, Ikkei Maeno, Aya Watanabe, Naoyuki Omine, Yukio Ishii, XL, Asuka Mera, Runa Iizuka, Yoshio Iwamoto, Sayaka Yokomizo, Takao Mizuno, Kaguratani Shinichi Sawada, Akio Kontani, Masaru Inoue, Ryo Nakao, Hironobu Matsumoto

Participating galleries

Abigail (Osaka), Atelier Bravo (Kyushu), Atelier Ripehouse (Osaka), Yellow (Osaka), Katarubenomori Museum (Hokkaido), THE GARDEN OF HOPE (Mie), KOBO SYU (Saitama), maru (Kyushu), Swing (Kyoto), Studio COOCA (Kanagawa), Toshinkai (Okayama), The Ritto Nakayoshi Sagyojo (Shiga), Atelier YAMANAMI (Shiga)


In spring of 2022, the Arts and Creative Mind Association will open the socially inclusive art space “THE WORLD” in the Tokachi district of Hokkaido. Through activities started in 2014, we’ve met with many artists with disabilities and their families, and seen for ourselves the uncertainties they share about life. This isn’t limited to people with disabilities. With the COVID-19 pandemic, divisions in society have become even more widespread, and people who are experiencing economic difficulties and are also disadvantaged are under tremendous stress. Under these circumstances, there is a need throughout the world for places where all people can live happily in a way that is fitting for human beings—such as places with an art studio where people both with and without disabilities can express themselves freely, and an art gallery for exhibiting the works that are created. People want to bring forth products that will be their sustenance for life. Enjoying the blessings of nature, organic connections between people inside and outside THE WORLD result in sustainability. We will foster a new culture based on art, and communicate its values to the world. This new start at THE WORLD promises to achieve wonderful things.

Outsider Art Exhibition
Our Life is Our Art:
Next Step, THE WORLD

June 7 – July 25, 2021 / 11:00 – 20:00
GYRE GALLERY, 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
03-3498-6990 (GYRE)
Arts and Creative Mind Association + GYRE
Exhibition curator/producer
Shino Sugimoto (Arts and Creative Mind Association founder/director)
Art direction
Hiro Sugiyama + Enlightenment
Yoshiro Osaka
HiRAO INC, TRiCERA, Inc., Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper, Kyodo-Gakusha Shintoku Farm, MURAYAMA + KATO ARCHITECTURE / mtka
Haruyama Zaidan
Press Contact
HiRAO INC|1-11-11 #608 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Contact: Seiichiro Mifune mifune@hirao-inc.com

Talk show outline
「SEE Nothing, HEAR Nothing,
SAY Nothing: An openly unequal society!

July 17, 2021/15:00–16:00 (online only)
Mariko Hasegawa (evolutionary biologist, president of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Tomoshi Okuda (president of Hoboku)