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Surface Tension

Contemporary Japanese Painting & Drawing

November 26, 2018 – January 25, 2019

Bridging calligraphy with the unleashed expressive gesture of performance, and merging formal drawing and painting with the influence of graffiti and mural painting, this exhibition showcases four contemporary Japanese artists with new approaches to the drawn surface.

Dante Horoiwa’s delicately controlled and intimate pencil drawings share an introspective energy with Yusk Imai’s surreal painted abstractions and landscape. With vigorous mark-making, Jun Inoue’s live painting and works on canvas and Hiroyasu Tsuri/TWOONE’s new style of lightbox paintings maintain the energy of the artists’ backgrounds in street art within a fine art practice.

Curated by The Japan Foundation, Sydney & Backwoods Gallery.

Presented by The Japan Foundation, Sydney, supported by Backwoods Gallery, Melbourne.



Dante Horoiwa (b. 1988, São Paulo, Brazil) is a self-taught Japanese background contemporary artist. Recently, Horoiwa has exhibited his paintings at the El Centenario Museum in Mexico, with further features in United States, South and North American galleries, as well as large-scale murals on the streets of East and West Europe. His work frequently deals with universal themes connected to the foundations of human existence. Using a placid colour scheme of neutral shades, Horoiwa’s paintings, drawings and murals possess a mysterious, spiritual and soulful tonality. His work delves into the depths of human experience to explore the seen and unseen, using devices such as long hair, textiles, plants and threads to connect the various forms and evoke our sense of something magical and supernatural.

More about the artist


Yusk Imai (b. 1982, Chicago, USA) is a self-taught contemporary artist raised in São Paulo. Since 2007, Yusk has exhibited extensively within galleries, at art fairs and on the streets of Europe, USA, Australia and South America. The flat perspectives and dramatic curves demonstrated in Imai’s work are reminiscent of the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau movement, from which he cites inspiration. His work exposes the rawness of humanity through surreal landscapes and figures expressing manic behaviours, insomnia, suffering and self-exploration.

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Jun Inoue was raised in regional Kanagawa, Japan, where he studied shodō (traditional Japanese calligraphy). His grand father, a Zen Monk, became a major influence on his philosophy and aesthetic vision. Upon moving to Tokyo, the energy of the city’s underground – jungle, hip-hop and most importantly, graffiti – played a major role in further shaping his aesthetic development. At the time, Tokyo graffiti had become focused on distinctive sweeping movements and minimalist abstract shapes, a stylistic direction inspired by visionary Tokyo artists Kami and Sasu. It was in this scene that Jun found the platform for his unique vision. Stripping both graffiti and shodō back to a single common element, Jun’s artwork combines powerful and energetic movement with contemplative, Zen-line elegance. By finding a balance between the two traditions, Jun offers each a renewed relevance and context.

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Hiroyasu Tsuri (b. 1985, Yokohama, Japan) is a Japanese contemporary artist whose work embodies hybridity, combining traditions from East and West, studio practice and street art, representation and abstraction. He is also well known as TWOONE for his large-scale mural works around the world. Over the past 6 years, Tsuri has garnered strong international recognition and has exhibited his versatile and unique artwork in galleries and museums across the globe. His diverse practice spans many genres, including painting, drawing, sculpture, site-specific installation, performance, sound and large-scale outdoor murals. Tsuri has exhibited internationally in the Netherlands, France, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and more. Since 2014 Tsuri has been based in Berlin. His works are held in the permanent collections of The National Gallery of Victoria and the City of Yarra.

More about the artist


Since opening in Melbourne in 2010, Backwoods Gallery has played an integral role in the development and promotion of the Australian street and graphic art scene and has represented international artists, with a high representation of Japanese artists, since its inception.

The gallery has produced 90+ solo exhibitions, countless public art projects, murals and publications while remaining independent. Backwoods represented artists have exhibited at the Museum of Old and New Art, the National Gallery of Australia and are held in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Artworks featured in Surface Tension are from the Backwoods Gallery collection.

For more information on artworks and artists, contact Backwoods Gallery

‘OBJECT’ by Hiroyasu Tsuri / TWOONE opens at Backwoods Gallery Nov 23 – Dec 9th.



January 18, 2019 (Friday)
Free; bookings not necessary.

Mon-Fri: 10am–6pm
Sat: 10am–4pm

Closed on Sundays and public holidays
The gallery will be closed December 22, 2018 – January 6, 2019.

The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008



(02) 8239 0055

Related Event

Artist Talk with Hiroyasu Tsuri / TWOONE

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