The fact that my five-year-old son adored the paintings in this exhibition is telling, and not just because he’s ordinarily more of a sculpture guy. A Tokyo-born artist who lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany, Satoshi Kojima employs a pale, dusty palette to conjure a gentler world than the one we inhabit as grown-ups. His oneiric scenarios have an appeal that seems to bypass verbal language and narrative logic in the manner of classic Surrealism. There’s also the occasional touch of oddball scatology, like the floating, stiletto-shod women defecating masklike faces in Beautiful Things. Then there’s his depiction of Eden, in which Eve has been supplanted by the second Adam with a snake for a penis.
The fact that Kojima needs to distinguish himself from a famous Japanese wrestler with the same name (“even though on occasion, there is some crossover,” as he ambiguously puts it) suggests a healthy sense of the absurd, and indeed, his work manages to combine a focus on sexual dread, isolation and death, with an unpredictable wit.
These are images that are both of this world and beyond it, often rooted in the spaces of everyday activity but forever shooting off on weird tangents. Like a kindergartner, Kojima innately understands that our surroundings can be reimagined as a playground.