Inspired by Norse mythology and referring to the gallerists’ ancestry, Japanese artist Shintaro Miyake presents for his fourth solo exhibition at Gerhardsen Gerner Berlin – a Viking Show.
Miyake has dedicated three works on paper to the enemies of the world of Norse mythology embedded in key moments of their narrative. Fenrir, ‘the Fenris Wolf’ is featured here as well as Jörmungandr, ‘the Midgard Serpent’ (Old Norse: Miðgarðsormr) and Garm, the huge dog of goddess of the dead, Hel. All three figures are siblings and children of the god Loki and the giantess Angrboda.
Since Fenrir has become too strong for the gods in Asgard, they devise a ploy to have him hogtied. In the process, however, Fenrir suspects fraud and demands to hold in pledge in his mouth the right hand of a god. Only Tyr, god of war, volunteers, ultimately sacrificing his hand and averting the threat the Fenris Wolf had posed.
Jörmungandr in turn, who had also become somewhat dangerous to the gods was tossed into the sea by Odin. According to legend, the former, who had grown so large that he was able to surround the earth and grasp his own tail, was later caught during a fishing trip by Thor along with his host Hymir, a bull’s head serving as bait. Hymir, however, frightened at the sight of the serpent, cuts the fishing line so that the serpent manages to escape.
Miyake has derived his depiction of the goddess of death Hel with her dog Garm from a description of her appearance as half bluish-black and half flesh-coloured, indicating that she might be half dead and half alive or partly old and partly young.
Hel too had been banished from Asgard, but founded her own kingdom in the north, where Garm guards the gate and bars the exit for dead warriors (who have happened to end up there).
Shintaro Miyake appropriates the gods and heroes of the Elder Edda in his unique cartoon-like style of drawing. In doing so, the artist predefines his main motifs in pencil with any corrections becoming part of his pictorial inventions. He then fills the lines with coloured pencil strokes, resulting in colour areas of an intrinsically tight feel. The line, however, remains dominant in Shintaro Miyake's work, as the long, flowing limbs of his figures may clearly illustrate.
For his exhibitions, Miyake often deals with site-specific characteristics or otherwise inspiring fictitious subjects, translating these into his own visual language. He has staged Minotaur's fight with a sea monster in Italy (2004), the life of Japanese fishermen in the olden days on the "art island" of Naoshima (2006), or the life of a beaver in the Sandra and David Bakalar Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Miyake has also translated the event of the Football World Cup in a fantastically humorous exhibition at Gerhardsen Gerner in 2006, and has conjured up „Egypt“ at Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo in 2008.
During the spectacular opening on August 23rd 2013 from 7pm, performance, drawing, sculpture and performance artefacts will coalesce into a Nordic-Japanese Gesamtkunstwerk.
 The Poetic Edda, also known as Sæmundar Edda or the Elder Edda, is a collection of Old Norse poems from the Icelandic medieval manuscript Codex Regius ("Royal Book"). Along with the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the most expansive source on Norse mythology (comp. Wikipedia, "Edda", June 2013).