Makoto Fujimura / Mountain Memoir – Columbine / 12 x 12 inches / gold and mineral pigments on paper / Dillon Gallery
I’ve been lazy on my posts lately and I’ll blame it on the holiday and the hot summer weather. Before I left town for a couple of days last week, I got down to Dillon Gallery and saw a great show of Makoto Fujimura paintings. The work is a visual feast. Shimmering sparkling pigments, gold, platinum and silver leaf create rich decadent colors and surfaces. Looking at these paintings I could really appreciate fine hand-ground pigments. It adds an energy or visual interest that can’t be obtained with tube paint off the shelf. With tube paint the pigment is mechanically ground to such a fine powder and mulled to such an even consistency that you don’t see individual pieces of pigment. These suspensions, especially in oil, acrylic or latex are great for painting flat even coats of paint that read as fields of color. However, when pigments are hand ground, there is an inconsistency in the sizes of the particles of pigment. There are fine powdery pieces and bigger chunkier flecks. When they are applied to the canvas, they catch and reflect the light differently. It is a subtle difference, but the overall effect on the life of the painting is huge.
In Fujimura’s paintings, the effect is accentuated as the grind of the pigments is very course is some cases and almost has the texture of sand. As you stand in front of a piece and shift your position, the light reflecting off the pigments shimmers and the surface feels alive and moving. Unfortunately, you can’t see this difference in photos on the web
Makoto Fujimura @ Dillon Gallery, 555 West 25th St., through August 2nd.Tags: prints, traditional japanese art, oriental art, Nihonga, nihonga painting, online art gallery