Monday, October 23, 2006

Junko Abe - Gallery Fuji – Osaka – Japan

Junko Abe

Junko Abe’s frescos are surprisingly deceptive, for first glance at the invite, it seemed like a water colour exhibition, so one was surprised to encounter frescos upon entering the art space.

Gallery Fuji is an interesting space that is tucked away in the heart of Osaka, it’s a very comfortable gallery to relax in and examine art, for it is downstairs in a basement just off the main street, and more or less just slightly bigger than the average urban Australian two car garage. Abe’s artworks hang very well within the space, easily enabling the audience to peruse the images at leisure.

Often in Japan and not being able to read Japanese, artworks seem to take longer to view, thus making the control of the written word, obsolete to the image, there is then the necessity to forensically examine the each piece. This experience is something akin to what the British sculptor Henry Moore stated here:

All art should have a certain mystery and should make demands on the spectator. Giving a sculpture or a drawing too explicit a title takes away part of that mystery so that the spectator moves on to the next object, making no effort to ponder the meaning of what he has just seen. Everyone thinks that he or she looks but they don't really, you know.

Well not having access to the titles of the artworks, there is now only vision that can relay the sensations of what is being seen. For example; the large single fresco is a delight to scrutinize, for it has a sensitive range of coarse textures that are brushed in, others are smoothed with very sensitive undulating flat areas, that have been pushed around with a spatula just ever so slightly, others spatial areas within the image have long thin linear gouges of various widths, accompanying these sensations is the bleeds/brushed in hues ranging from yellow/burnt ochres, blues and payne/blackish greys. Another interesting issue about this work that one has not seen often in Frescos is the sensation of movement and it works very well

The best example in this sensation of movement is within the large triptych and the sensation of this energy, forces the eye to move from panel to panel, it is a successful as a group of paintings.

Junko Abe - Triptych

These understandings of Fresco by Abe stems from her career as an architect, for in Japan few artists have the luxury of being a full time artists, so many of them work in tandem with there art and jobs, this is difficult balance but they seem to do this very successfully, as on show here at Gallery Fuji and one has only admiration for there determination, for work in Japan is seriously hard.

These works on show here by Abe, reveal the visual delights that can be had through her manipulation of an old painting methodology with a very idiosyncratic vision (memory upon reflection). So if in Osaka please visit Gallery Fuji and enjoy the Fresco’s of Junko Abe.

Link to Gallery Fuji:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tetsuo Hayashi - Gallery Shimada – Kobe – Japan

Tetsuo Hayashi

The trend in some of the contemporary movements in art, but by no means all, seems to deny this ideal and to me appears to lead to a purely decorative conception of painting.

Edward Hooper

In the era of modern painting (post modernism doesnt exist, just because an academic says it does, isnt necessarily true) creating an image in oil paints is still extremely hard to do well. The individual vision in painting is even harder to render and in a visit to the Gallery Shimada recently, a exhibition of the artwork by Tetsuo Hayashi was a surprise to encounter and it was one of the most successfully interesting shows in terms of how way the paint traces equaled the intentions of the artists concept.

Hayashi had this wonderful sensibility with paint and in a generation of painters were many have followed the American Abstract trends of big painting, without ever visiting or understanding the sources of why it came into existance, here was an artist, that was his own person in the way he revealed those wonderful tactile qualities, found within household objects, that one uses everyday and he painted them with a real passion, with one of most intelligent systems of applying of oil paint, that exhibited his sensations from what was being seen on the public surfaces of his chosen motifs.

To see Hayashi's painting of the daily bread on the table is really impressive, it’s not one of those glamour paintings that dazzles the senses but of an image, that has been achieved through a very hard calligraphic painting journey over time.

What is also is so seductive in Hayashi's paintings is the pedestrian subject matter (bread, knife and fork etc...) in the way it could trigger personal memories of my grandmother's table when very young, in the early 1960's, she was never rich or even middle class (her husband had long gone, he died of cancer after a life time of cleaning out locomotive steam engines) and lived in an old beach cottage with the other retired folk nearby, mainly old soldiers who had gone through the battles of the Somme in World War One, like old Jack (the stretcher bearer) across the road, the price of such beach quaintness was very high for them, but those are the memories that flood back after seeing this painting.

Tetsuo Hayashi

Similar memories were had in viewing Hayashi's other painting, with the knife, fork, spoons, corks and bottle as subject matter, revealing that he was not an artists searching for an aesthetic through wealthy objects but the everyday utensils and in doing so renders the textures as sighted on the object that had the effects of aging in the form of wear and tear, the oil traces to render his sensations from observation is just exquisite in this painting.

There is some stunning examples of image making in this exhibition (which no doubt he gleaned from the Japanese cultural officers bringing the best examples of international painting from abroad, for the local population to see) thus making him a far more accomplished painter, so if one comes across Hayashi, do take time out to study his painterly application, it will be well worth your time.

The Art Refugee sincerely apologises for getting the artists name wrong to all those concerned. Please go to link at Gallery Shimada:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Seven Printmakers, Horikawa Gallery, Kobe Japan.

Seven Printmakers,

HoriKawa Gallery

It’s been a long time (coming from Australia) since one has come across printmaking (etching) that was so exquisitely presented. But here in Japan, the case is somewhat different, its part of their deep artistic history and everyday life.

Printmaking is a really seductive medium, especially etching, the surface qualities one can manifest, if they are excellent practitioners is really stunning and this exhibition at the Gallery Horikawa, reveals just those sensations.

The etchings presented by Ms Yanagimoto, Mr.Tsuzaki, Ms Washida, Ms Okunishi, Ms Teranda, Mr. Uotani and Ms Shinga have offered the community of Kobe, a very good individual print show, actually the quality and quantity of works was really inspirational and well worth taking considerable time to gaze it.

The forensic like attention to detail within these etchings is professional and it’s the little things of hue, contrast and tone, that do not have to be produced in accordance with the western traditional taught pavlovian methods of form, perspective etc…, but more in sync with the demands of the artist’s individual the memory, from there developing systems of printmaking, to be revealed within the artwork, that is so important to articulate the concept accurately, which is so well exhibited here within these prints, it’s sheer pleasure to engage.

The English artist Barbara Hepworth 1903- 1975, revealed her concerns on the details of an artwork towards the concept;

One must be entirely sensitive to the structure of the material that one is handling. One must yield to it in tiny details of execution, perhaps the handling of the surface or grain, and one must master it as a whole.

There is the evidence by these artists on show, that the words of Barbara Hepworth ring true. Unfortunately, the exhibition is ended but one will be on the look out for the next exhibition by any of these artists in the future. One thing for sure, the art in Kobe just seems to getting better and better, maybe it is the excellent quality of international art exhibitions from around the world, the prefectures major museums and galleries bring to the local audience regularly that helps, integrated with the Japans own deep and unique artistic history, whatever it is, it’s working that’s for sure.