Sho Shibuya: Month

Sho Shibuya: Month

Sho Shibuya: Month
25 July–24 August 2023
Unit London
3 Hanover Square
London, W1S 1HG
United Kingdom

Sho Shibuya‘s first exhibition with Unit London examines our perceptions of time through the use of painting as a daily ritual. Month presents a visual diary of the artist’s work from a period between January and May 2023, featuring thirty paintings and one sculpture also comprising thirty paintings. Using the New York Times as a canvas, Shibuya paints the image of a sunrise on each newspaper’s front cover. Each of these artworks represents a single day, aiming to demonstrate our varying perceptions of different timeframes; a single day can feel long, or monumental, or it can simply feel unremarkable. Despite the inherently divisive nature of front page news, Month offers the unifying motif of a sunrise to keep our daily lives in perspective.

Sho Shibuya: Month
Sho Shibuya: Month

Month presents a series of artworks from the “post-COVID” era. With this body of work, Shibuya has selected sunrises from clear days in New York City, examining the process and experience of time. Shibuya has been creating these artworks since April 2020. For him, the tranquil sunrise presented a contrast to the chaos in the news. Cities were in lockdown, but the rise and fall of the sun outside his window persevered as if nothing had changed. In fact, in Shibuya’s eyes, everything seemed quieter and more peaceful than usual. For the artist, these continuing movements of nature helped to reset his mind and encouraged him to appreciate everyday moments. More recently, when New York City was blanketed in thick orange smoke from wildfires in Canada, humankind was offered another reminder not to take the view of the sunrise for granted. For Shibuya, these events reinforced the importance of capturing the sun each morning.

Shibuya wakes up every day at around 5 or 6am, doing so naturally and without an alarm. He reads the newspaper and takes a photo of the sunrise from his window or rooftop. Each morning he goes for a run before cropping the newspaper, taking a cold shower and having breakfast with his wife. He then paints the morning’s sunrise on the cover of that day’s New York Times. In this sense, Shibuya’s artworks have become a part of his morning routine. Using everyday objects, the artist transforms the newspaper into his canvas. He uses acrylic paint to render the sunrise before finishing the piece with a deacidification spray to prevent the paper from yellowing. Often, Shibuya covers the whole front page in gradations of colour. Sometimes, for significant events such as the election results or the invasion of the Ukraine, he leaves the New York Times’s one-line headline uncovered. Relinquishing his own choice in the matter, Shibuya keeps the headline exposed every time the editors of the newspaper choose to use this layout.

Sho Shibuya: Month
Sho Shibuya 230207, 2023
Acrylic on newspaper
67 x 42 cm (incl frame)

Shibuya keeps an unpainted copy of each newspaper, enabling him to look back at the events of each day and forming an archival collection for reference. Littered with these unpainted newspaper covers, the floor of the exhibition reminds us that reality still exists outside the world of these tranquil paintings. Even the most peaceful and innocent sunrise will occur while war is waged in Ukraine, while a spy balloon floats across the sky, or while an earthquake shakes Turkey and Syria. As such, Shibuya ensures that Month is never severed from humanity.

©2023 Unit London, Sho Shibuya

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