Tower 49 Gallery

Enrico Isamu Oyama

Enrico Isamu Ōyama, FFIGURATI #253, 2019 [section], Acrylic aerosol paint, latex paint and sumi ink on canvas mounted on aluminum stretcher (12), (H)11ft x (W)60ft / (H)3.35m x (W)18.29m, Artwork © Enrico Isamu Ōyama, Photo © Go Sugimoto


Enrico Isamu Oyama, FFIGURATI #92–#96, 2014, Acrylic aerosol paint and latex paint on unstretched canvas, (H) 9 ft x (W) 7 ft, Artwork © Enrico Isamu Oyama, Photo © Atelier Mole

Enrico Isamu Oyama 


Curated by Eric Shiner
May 2019 – August 2020
Opening reception: September 2019

NEW YORK – Tower 49 Gallery is pleased to announce Inside Out, a site-specific solo exhibition by New York-based Japanese artist Enrico Isamu Oyama for its 2019–2020 program. In the exhibition, the artist presents his iconic motif known as Quick Turn Structure that appears across the six columns of Tower 49’s public plaza, followed by a painting 60-feet wide, that will hang in front of a wall behind the lobby’s main desk.

Oyama’s Quick Turn Structure (QTS) consists of interlocking intersections of black and white shapes. Informed by the visual language of aerosol writing culture, the unique style replaces letters with lines, highlighting their dynamic motion through the process of repetition that subsequently creates an abstract form with angular points and three-dimensional depth. While focusing on murals and paintings over the past 15 years, Oyama has further expanded his medium by the application of QTS onto surfaces that are materially, conceptually and socially diverse. This has allowed the artist and QTS to blur the various borders that exist in and out of contemporary art.

Across the interior and exterior of Inside Out, Oyama brings the diversity of QTS to various surfaces of Tower 49 gallery. The tall sticker installation on the six stainless poles that surround the building’s main entrance, for example, transforms the public plaza into an outdoor museum. Anyone on this portion of East 49th Street can witness this work that immediately invites the viewer into the lobby where the artist’s inescapable painting, measuring 60-feet wide, is located along the granite wall on the east side. The lobby’s west wall exhibits five, large unstretched canvases aligned to respond to the ground-floor structure.

The exhibition continues up to the gallery’s Sky Lobby, located on the 24th floor, and showcases Oyama’s Found Object series on its marble wall. The pieces here present QTS within traditional frames, as the artist’s black-and-white motif overlaps with existing, found images. In contrast to other areas, the Sky Lobby is characterized as a private space with limited access. Inside Out happens across 3 areas that gradually connect and shift; the plaza (outside public space),  the lobby (inside public space) and the sky lobby (inside private space) to enhance the trans-border nature of QTS being active in and out, private and public, and throughout the multiple mediums that it negotiates with.

Enrico Isamu Oyama (b.1983, Italian / Japanese) creates visual art in various mediums that features Quick Turn Structure: the motif composed of spontaneous repetition and expansion of free-flowing lines influenced by aerosol writing of 1970’s-80’s New York and beyond. Originally from Tokyo and currently based in New York, Ōyama has authored the book Against Literacy: On Graffiti Culture, edited the special issue on aerosol writing for Japanese art magazine Bijutsu Techo, and undertook collaboration with brands such as Comme des Garçons and Shu Uemura. Oyama’s solo exhibition Ubiquitous: Enrico Isamu Oyama was held at Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art (Kansas, US) in 2017.

Eric Shiner is Artistic Director, White Cube, New York. Prior to this, he was Senior Vice President of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s. Shiner served as the director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh from 2010 to 2016, and was the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Warhol from 2008 to 2010. A leading scholar on Andy Warhol and Asian contemporary art, Eric lived and worked in Japan for a total of six years and was assistant curator on the inaugural Yokohama Triennale in 2001.  He has curated dozens of contemporary art exhibitions in cities around the globe and was the team leader on The Warhol Museum’s major Warhol retrospective that traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo between 2012 and 2014.  Notable exhibitions include An Incident, the inaugural edition of the Platform section at the Armory Show in 2017, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei in 2015/16, Deborah Kass:  Before and Happily Ever After in 2012 and Armory Focus:  USA at the Armory Show in 2013.