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: silver leaf, soho art gallery, oriental prints, modern art, paintings, abstract painting
July 8, 2008 1 Comment
Elise Ferguson / You Me / 2008 / pigmented plaster, aluminum, silver leaf / 18 x 24 inches / envoy gallery
Arnold Kemp / Climate / 2008 / watercolor, acrylic paint, flashe, mixed media on linen / 14 x 18 inches / envoy gallery
Aude du Pasquier Grall / Le Cycle Masculin N°7 / 2005-2008 / video installation; ed. 5 / envoy gallery
I happened upon this show in the Lower East Side a few weeks back, shortly after it opened. Small textured paintings in the front room sparkled and glittered. I slipped behind the curtain into a video exhibit projected on two walls. I’m usually not a big fan of video exhibitions, usually because it’s impossible to watch because people are afraid to walk fully into the room, clogging up the entrance, and I usually walk in at some point in the loop with no idea where it is coming from where it is going and for how long. I loose patience quickly. Anyway, this was fun because it wasn’t crowded, I could sit on the floor, and besides, the artist was there sitting in a chair, with her elbows on her knees, filming us watching the video, setting up this weird pomo redundancy observer/observed dynamic. I only wish I had done my little doggy yelp!
Envoy Gallery, 131 Chrystie St., through 7 June 2008Tags: silver leaf, Paint, art, video, lower east side, mixed media
May 28, 2008 No Comments
Norihiko Saito: A Hill in His Heart / 2007 / 70 x 165 inches / mineral pigments on screen panels / © Norihiko Saito. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of the artist and Dillon Gallery
I was able to run down at lunch today to the Dillon Gallery to catch the Ma: New Traditions in Nihonga exhibition before it closes on 4/22. While I can’t speak to the history of Nihonga painting, I thought the work was excellent with both strengths and weaknesses. As a painter when I look at paintings I look at a number of things, first what is the space depicted by the artist, how are they create space in their work, what are they spacial divisions? Is it flat, is it a deep space, perspective, overlapping planes? What are the major shapes and forms and how do they move in space. For the most part the paintings in this exhibition were very flat, relying more on elegant divisions of the surface – positive and negative spaces, contrasts of intense pigments or metal leaf with the airy quiet of the washi paper or silk support – to move the eye and create a sense of mood or drama. At notable exception is Asami Yoshiga’s Invitation Pond, a stunning piece of sumi ink on multiple layers of translucent silk, that moves your eyes into a deep atmospheric space. All of the pieces, use beautiful and luscious pigments that sing and sparkle on the surface and almost appear to be woven in to the silk. It made me lament our over ground tube paints that tend to be more filler than pigment.
The show is a visual treat for the eyes offering a wonderful play of colours, textures, and light. While satisfying my hunger for visual stimulation the works incline toward the decorative and leave weighter issues and ideas aside, but then again there more then plenty of conceptual work to go around. Ma: New Traditions in Nihonga Painting is a fabulous little show not to be missed.
Nihonga is a technique whose roots extend back more than a thousand years. The term, created in the 19th century to distinguish traditional painting methods from Western-influenced art, has often been synonymous with art of the past. Its practitioners incorporate time-honored materials such as silk, rice-paper, ground semi-precious minerals as well as gold and silver leaf into their paintings. Nihonga artists have tended to look to the visual forms and conventions of the past during most of this century. The most recent generation of Nihonga painters, however, has reinvigorated the style in an attempt to change the way the practice is perceived. For a preview click here.
Tags: Norihiko Saito, visual stimulation, tube paints, pigment, washi paper, Paper
Asami Yoshiga / Invitation Pond / 33 x 47 inches each, 2 pieces / sumi ink on silk / © Courtesy of the artist and Dillon Gallery
April 17, 2008 No Comments