September 17 - September 26, 2020

In the lead up to our grand opening in October, TOKYO INTERNATIONAL GALLERY (TIG) is happy to present up-and-coming artist Michael Ho’s first solo exhibition in Japan, “Happiness is Submission to Godzilla”.

Ho studied at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Art, where he was awarded its highest honor, Latin Honors, in 2018. After graduating, he moved to Tokyo where he explored possibilities of more complex paintings that incorporate American pop culture into paintings and sculptures focused on visual semantics and pseudo-doctrinalism, creating an active dialogue with the viewer. His new works, now on view for the first time, begin with a search for the possibility of redefining the extraordinary space of the “gallery” and exploring the relationship between the “work” and the “viewer”. The dialogue that arises between the two parties, questions the relationship between “seeing and being seen” and the act of “understanding” itself, occurs within the framework of “seeing and being seen” and “understanding”. “You try to understand the work. At the moment you realize that you can’t understand it, a dialogue is born.
A gallery is a void in which virtual space creates microcosms. In this exhibition, this microcosm acts as a catalyst to question the relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness, existence and illusion, and the relationship between the viewer and the artwork. The life-sized square canvases, which are naturally confronted with the white space, create an inexplicable harmony of strings of letters, symbols, perspective drawings and pop fluorescent colors, and the interplay of cosmic, pop-cultural, industrial, social, political, technological and other allusions that allow the viewer to see the work in a different light. It prevents me from “understanding”.
One side of the three-dimensional work comprising an eye-catching geometric form covers a corner of the space’s concrete (floor), and in the sense that it occupies a part of the floor, the viewer is also equal to the three-dimensional work, and the gap in the structure labeled “HELP ME” suggests the existence of someone monitoring the space from inside the structure, as well as reversing the relationship between the viewer and the work of art (art object) in the space.
In this exhibition, the artworks and the audience interact with each other through the catalyst of the gallery as the “other” with which we coexist as “pairs” but never cross each other, without resorting to words. Obedience to the “understanding” of a concept defined by someone else may be a temporary “happiness”, but is it really?
In the white space, Ho’s work doesn’t attempt to tell us anything. There is only questioning and dialogue.
Who are you? What does truth mean to you?


In “Happiness is Submission to Godzilla,” the innate understanding and experience of 3D geometric figures makes parallels to the similar geometric form and void of the gallery space it exists within. The monolithic polyhedrons fill the void of their own plane of reality as well as monoliths that literally exist on the concrete plane of the gallery floor along with the viewers themselves. The viewers’ fluctuation between geometric illusionism and geometric realism obscures the legibility of each works function. Cosmic, pop cultural, industrial, socio-political, and technological allusions all coalesce into an unfathomable metaphysical conduit, thus denying any resolution a viewer may have with the work. “Happiness is submission to Godzilla” facilitates confirmation bias as a participatory game and a vehicle to communicate with the work in an ever evolving manner, whether the viewer is conscious of this agreement or not.

>Michael Ho