dog, ghost by AUTO MOAI, Nick Atkins


11.20 (Sat) 〜 12.05 (Sun)

※ Open on Wednesday 〜 Saturday,Last Sunday

*Please wear a mask, take your temperature and disinfect yourself when you visit the venue.

*Please note that admission may be restricted depending on the congestion of the venue. Thank you for understanding in advance that you may be required to stand in line.

*Please note that the exhibition period and opening hours may be subject to change depending on the situation. Any changes will be announced on the gallery website and Instagram.


13:00 – 19:00

On dog, ghost

AUTO MOAI’s portraits do not have faces. Their series featuring faceless figures has often been introduced with the word anonymity. It can be interpreted as a representation of self-knowledge––like a fleeting ghost who has forgotten its face––via the ambiguity of an individual within the contemporary cityscape. The sceneries they portray evoke hazy memories and dreams as well as personal moments with friends.

In Nick Atkins’ work, a character represents his understanding of himself at a given time. It was an insect when he first started painting that recently turned into a cat and now a dog. He has also created a conceptual series Hanji Party, which draws from his life and comprises various types of work including durational monologue sound pieces and sculptures. Blending multiple visual languages from the comical to the realistic, Atkins positively and humorously portrays themes that are commonly perceived as taboo, including death, sexual deviation, drugs, and a rejection of society.

The two artists’ works have several things in common. They evoke feelings inside viewers by proposing a narrative that is based on their lives––like a personal history one cannot normally access. At the same time, they bring forth symbols and compositions that hold meaning within the history of painting and common social norms, devised to connect their work with greater history and society. For example, the goat, which frequently appears in AUTO MOAI’s work, symbolizes the devil in Christian cultural contexts while it also represented god for some non-Christians. The dog ornaments that appear in Atkins’ work are Staffordshire spaniel figurines, highly popular among Victorian bourgeois households. An old-fashioned item, it was once placed on windowsills as a device for love affairs. If the dogs were placed back-to-back, it was a sign that the husband was home; if they faced each other, it meant he was away.

The dog is considered a symbol of loyalty while it can simultaneously be used as a metaphor for unfaithfulness; the word can also be an insult. The two figures that appear in AUTO MOAI’s works can be perceived as representations of sanctity and evil, or rationality and desire. Allegories and myths born out of themes of (dis)loyalty or rationality and desire may seem obscene or brutal while also familiar. This is likely due to humans across time and space having carried endless antinomies without visual or verbal representation. An infinite number of feelings and insights––such as uncertainty, resistance, acceptance, frustration, impulsion, and restraint, and vacillations between them––spur from such a state. Suffice to say, the two artists deal with these ambivalent matters.

More now than when the aforementioned symbols were established, contemporary society unsettles one’s sense of self, which should be inviolable by nature, drawing out contradictory characteristics and situations. It should be inseparable from the predicament people face today; the worlds these two artists depict then feel extremely current.
ー Noriyuki Abe / CALM & PUNK GALLERY

In 2015, AUTO MOAI primarily drew monochrome drawings, and in 2018 began to produce color works and canvases. In November 2020, the artist began exhibiting oil paintings. Along with flat surface mediums, she now also works in three-dimensional mediums. Recent exhibitions include Buoy (CALM AND PUNK GALLEY, Tokyo) in 2020, How to Talk About Love in a Wrong World (Isetan the Space, Tokyo) in 2021 and (everyday mooonday, Seoul) with Andy Rementer in the spring of 2021.

Nick Atkins
Nick Atkins lives and works in New York. His work, which integrates painting, film, sculptural installation, and fashion, draws on historic references, pop iconography, and his own idiosyncratic visual vocabulary. Both playful and arch, his practice employs techniques of appropriation and montage to disrupt recognisable imagery and storylines.

His large-scale, site-specific installations gesture at world building, often populated by characters and kinetic objects from his imagination. With his sculptures, he frequently contrasts scale and mass with fragility and temporality, using materials and themes that signal ecological concern.

In a wink to the digital realm, his crude, humorous paintings often depict the collision between cartoon characters—expressing joie de vivre and sexual deviance—and real world malaise.