Picking Up Seeds

Yuji Ueda

December 4, 2020 – December 24, 2020
GALLERY HOURS :11:00 – 19:00

Opening Reception: December 4, 18:00 – 20:00

※This exhibition is now concluded.
Thank you to all the many people who stopped by.

※Please note that entry may be restricted if the number of visitors exceeds the maximum capacity.


We are pleased to announce the second solo exhibition of Yuji Ueda’s works at Kaikai Kiki Gallery. His first major solo show at our gallery was held in November 2018. For that long-awaited exhibition, the artist created the largest and most abstract works he had ever made in his career. The works he produced for the show were truly remarkable, bursting with his human soul.

On the opening day, a lot of people visited the gallery and Ueda welcomed them with a smile on his face. While smaller pieces sold quickly, however, no one bought any of the large works. We told ourselves that this wasn’t unexpected for the first day.

Around the same time, Kanye West and his wife happened to be in Japan and their then-creative advisor dropped by to see the exhibition. She was fascinated by Ueda’s view of the world evident in his work and bought a few pieces. After a couple of hours, the advisor contacted us and requested the price list, saying that Kanye liked the installation views she had shared with him. We sent the list to her right away and immediately heard back that Kanye wanted to purchase all the pieces that were still available.

What surprised us the most was that he asked us to bring all the works he had purchased to Haneda airport by the next morning, in just a few hours, so that he could fly back with them on his private jumbo jet. What…!? So we abruptly closed the exhibition and started packing. That is why Ueda’s previous solo show with us was open only for four days. You can see how the works were displayed at Kanye’s home in a documentary on Netflix titled My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman: Season 2 | Kanye West. In the end, we did not make the flight but managed to finish packing one week later. In My Next Guest…, Kanye refers to these works as a Christmas gift for himself.

I was introduced to Yuji Ueda by Otani Workshop. The first time I met him in person was when we held a group show curated by Otani in 2012 titled Around the Kochuten at Oz Zingaro, a gallery I used to run in Nakano. Otani also curated a solo show of Ueda’s works at the same gallery in 2013. At first, I did not like Ueda’s work at all. Otani insisted, however, that I do an exhibition featuring Ueda as he believed the latter really was a good artist, and so we ended up holding the show. During the show, in the gallery space, Ueda made tea for me and it was so incredibly good that I began to see a halo around his head. He was born into a family that has grown tea for three generations in Asamiya, a region located on the outskirts of Kyoto. The fine taste of tea came together with his entire work, revealing their renewed meaning and significance to me. That was how I came to consider getting seriously involved with the artist, and I have been working with him since.

Whenever I ask Ueda what the theme for his work is, his response is anti-climactic in its childishness: “I want to make attractive works.” His words may seem inadequate for someone over forty, but the body of work he produced for his last show overcame his linguistic childishness, harboring something like a divine artistic glow. It was a body of work that would retain its freshness when seen in the distant future, whether ten or fifty years from now; the artist’s life, ambition, sorrow, and hardship were all lumped up and evident in those works.

I am in the gallery business precisely in the hope of encountering such artworks and in order to create a space to make such encounters possible. That show made me feel my efforts had paid off. With the show having lasted for just four days, however, we were not able to allow many people to experience it.

At the end of June, after deconstructing the old kiln he had used since 2015, Ueda started to build a new one and just finished the work in August. Since his last solo show with us, we have been in touch with him almost every day, and I believe the process has added further robustness to his work. Please visit our gallery and enjoy an enriched body of work the artist produced for this show.

Takashi Murakmi


A Message from the Artist

I knead clay, leave it to dry, and fire it in a firewood kiln.
The clay transforms itself as it is left exposed to the force of nature.
My process of creation is a back and forth between leaving my work entirely to the power of nature and intervening with my intentions.


As precautionary measures to help contain the further spread of COVID-19, visitors are asked to wear masks and sanitize their hands before entering the gallery.
(Hand sanitizer is available at the entrance. Visitors without masks will be refused entry.)
Please refrain from visiting the gallery if you have any symptoms such as fever or cough.

Our staff will also adopt frequent hand sanitation and wear masks. The gallery will be routinely ventilated and high-touch areas will be regularly disinfected.

*Please check our website or Instagram for the latest information regarding opening hours, as the gallery schedule is subject to abrupt change due to unpredictable circumstances.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

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