Nami Yokoyama, ‘Story’ (detail) Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

For the third instalment of the Nissan Art Award at BankArt Studio NYK, Hikaru Fujii won the overall prize for a video/performance that questioned social and cultural values, while Nami Yokoyama won the Audience Award for her oil paintings of neon signs. Depicting single words, lines of text, religious symbols, and cartoony stereotypes, the results from the public’s votes nominated her works the most popular on show of the five finalists.
It’s easy to see the appeal of Yokoyama’s body of work. Even if neon weren’t an eye-catching subject to represent, each set of lights is portrayed so convincingly that you can almost hear the canvases buzz. Of course, fluorescent lighting and signage is no stranger to art galleries, but it’s far more commonly employed as a sculptural form than it is a subject of still-life.
Illuminated on bare supports in gloomy settings, each painting depicts seemingly banal motifs whose significance is strangely heightened. The artist says:
“I have been painting for 13 years. Over these past 7 years, I have concentrated on still life paintings. The method I pursue of painting still life in oils is a traditional rather than new form. As such, it is a great honour to be selected as a finalist for this award. I always work while conscious not only of the problems present in the painting itself but also the idea of reinterpreting beauty and the value of things through an artwork”.

Nami Yokoyama, ‘Sexy women’ Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Nami Yokoyama, ‘Crucifix’ Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Nami Yokoyama, ‘Sexy men’ Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Nami Yokoyama, ‘This history of Western painting’ Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Nami Yokoyama, ‘Window’ Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Nami Yokoyama, ‘PAINTING’ Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Nami Yokoyama, ‘PAINTING’ (detail) Oil on linen (2017) Photo: Nick West

Alongside Hikaru Fujii and Nami Yokoyama, the other finalists are Ryuichi Ishikawa, Yuichiro Tamura, and Motoyuki Daifu.
Nissan Art Award 2017 is on show until 5th November. Admission is free.
Nami Yokoyama was born in Gifu, Japan (1986). The artist lives and works in Ibaraki.
To see more of her work, visit the artist’s website: namiyokoyama.com
©Nick West 2017