Filmmaker Amarachi Nwosu presents an exhibition recap video of artist Julia Abe‘s first solo
exhibition, ‘Kyoudai’ at So Gallery in Tokyo, supported by CHAMP.
4-6 March, 2016.


Friday 4 – Sunday 6 March, 2016


So Gallery, supported by Champ Magazine is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Japanese-Brazilian artist Julia Abe on view from March 4-6, 2016. Unseen drawings and a site-specific wall paintings, marking it as a first solo exhibition for the artist.

Julia Abe is a 19-year-old Tokyo-based artist, born in 1996 to a Japanese father and Brazilian mother, and raised in Brazil before moving to Japan in 2012. In her senior year of high school she was awarded “Best In Art” in 2014. After graduating she took what most people call a gap year, to travel the world and visit as many museums and galleries as possible. Her aim was to see and learn how artists present their work, before starting her university education.

Abe’s passion for drawing and painting began at her middle school in Yokohama when she was ostracised for being the only foreign student. She fell in love instantly with the amount of time and space she had to draw and create, and has since never stopped.


Abe cites her biggest art influences as Mark Ryden, Tim Burton, Audrey Kawasaki and Takashi Murakami and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Abe’s upcoming first solo exhibition, ‘Kyoudai’ (sibling in Japanese) is inspired by the year 2015 as a particular significant and influential year in the artists life. It was the year that she had met the largest amount of people influential in her life, accompanied by her largest year of travels to São Paulo, Santos, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Montreal, Toronto, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris and Zurich.

Previously, Abe had used her art as a way to escape from society, but is now inspired to use it as a way of connection. The relationships that she built with those she met last year was so strong, she felt comfortable enough to call all of them brothers. Hence the exhibi- tion title, ‘Kyoudai’ meaning siblings and representing brotherhood.

In Abe’s drawings, each face or character has a different shape on their forehead representing unique minds. The shapes are also transparent because once you spend enough time with someone you can “see-through” their thoughts and what their mind is shaped like. The fish scales on the back- ground of her artworks represents a fish, a creature that lives in the ocean, which also connects all living beings. Abe expresses that we might all think differently, but inevitably we are all connected somehow.


CHAMP caught up with Julia prior to the opening of ‘Kyoudai’ for an exclusive insight into her exhibition
concept and citing inspiration from artists such as Audrey Kawasaki, Mark Ryden, Tim Burton and Takashi Murakami. Photography below shot by Chris Lloyd.

Julia Abe

Being from two culturally-diverse countries (Brazil and Japan), how does this inspire your open perspective on your art and way of life?
Being from both Japan and Brazil helped me to become the open minded person that I am today. I grew up in two different environments and I always tried to take that as an opportunity to learn more about different cultures. You can see traces of Japanese art in my pieces, but also deformed shapes and different methods of colouring that are not so common in Japanese art. My pieces are a mixture of cultures just like myself.
Your exhibition artworks are inspired by 2015 being a very influential year for you. How did your travels and the people you met along the way play such an influential role?
Yes, this particular exhibition is about every person that I’ve met last year because of the impact they caused in my life. I want to work as a creative and with creative people in the future and I had the opportunity to hear experiences and meet a lot of people with the same objectives. Every person that I’ve met had a story, a personality and a unique mindset. I saw how important it was to connect with others and that’s why I’ve decided to do this exhibition, to represent them._MG_5371
This is your very first solo exhibition.
How did you prepare your artworks and develop your particular concept?
It took me a while to develop this particular concept, almost two years. I wanted to somehow leave the message that meeting new faces is in fact a very important thing to do in order to have a better understanding of the world we live in. I made sure I’d only paint and draw when I felt the most inspired to, because I want people to look at each piece and feel the importance of the message they’re giving.
KYOUDAI expresses a connection between people, almost like siblings,
albeit coming from a different culture or mindset. 
Please explain a little more:
One thing that I realized by traveling and meeting new faces last year was that every single person has a different way of thinking and therefore I decided to symbolize that by drawing different shapes on each face’s foreheads on my pieces. As for the shapes all being see-through, it’s because once you’ve known a person well enough, they ideas become clear for you and you can actually “see-through” why they think a certain way. And even though each person think a different way, we are somehow connected. “Connected”, as in all of us being humans, having similar interests, coming from the same region, sharing the same perspective towards a certain thing or even liking the same food. To represent that I decided to use fish scales as a background for each piece because a fish is a creature that comes from the ocean. The ocean is what surrounds all living beings in the world, and it’s what connect us all.


You mentioned your inspirations come from artists such as Mark Ryden, Tim Burton, Takeshi Murakami and Audrey Kawasaki. Do you remember the first time seeing their works and the impact it had on you?
It made a huge impact one me when I saw each artist’s way of publishing their own work and creating new content. One thing that I appreciate the most about them is that they are passionate about creating art, and that’s exactly why I’m creating content as an artist as well.
Is there something you’d like viewers to take away from your works,
inspiration or a new understanding?
The main reason why I’ve decided to introduce myself as an artist this year is to show young people and the new generations that they are capable of doing whatever it is, if they believe in themselves and create something with passion. I find it very cliché that I want to inspire and show them a new vision towards the world, but it’s something that has to be constantly reminded in order to work. I want people to know that it is okay to be afraid of doing something new, but I also want them to overcome their fears._MG_5347


All photography: Chris Lloyd