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PAST EXHIBITIONS

Japanese Women Artists: On the Joy of Life

September 28 ~ October 18, 2006
Opening Reception September 29 (Fri.) 6 ~ 8 pm

Curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, PhD.


From Left to Right: Rev Okui, Matsuno Moroi, Akiko Numajiri, Tsukushi Hibi, Thalia Vrachopolous, Mitsuko Saito, Albert Lotto, Naoko Minegishi, Michael Yuge

These women artists have been showing as a group since 1993 and are unified by a certain feeling in their work that emits warmth, gentility, and a certain softness not usually found in many contemporary works that have recently tended to be violent in some way. However, this does not mean that their work is bereft of interest in contemporary issues or that they’re afraid of engaging with their own time, just that their focus lies in the comforting aspects of life. In this sense they are strong in their program that goes against the zeitgeist of their era yet stays connected to it by making an effort to alter its outcomes.


Akiko Numajiri, Colors 2006 (8” x 6” x 10”, global paper products)

Mitsuko Saito, Montauk at Dawn, 6:30 AM, April 2003, Montauk, New York, (51” x 32”, Oil on Canvas)

Akiko Numajiri combines recycled paper from all over the world to produce sculptures that speak to contemporary cultural heterogeneity. With such as work is Colors 2006 (8” x 6” x 10”, global paper products) Numajiri investigates world wide preferences for packaging colors, materials and media of heterogeneous populations such as that of America. Coming from a homogeneous Japanese culture, Numajiri is naturally interested in studying the differences or ‘otherness’ existing in societies that are multilayered.  
 
Mitsuko Saito’s work Montauk at Dawn, 6:30 AM, April 2003, Montauk, New York, (51” x 32”, Oil on Canvas) was inspired by her contact with a Montauk dawn and the colors of the sea and sky of the surrounding area. The artist wanted to paint this scene at dawn because she perceived the lively animation of life sandwiched between heaven and earth. An accomplished painter who has shown both here and in Japan, Saito’s engagement with Rothko’s style holds similarities only on the surface. Saito’s visual language expresses specificity, time, day, year-- unlike most of Rothko’s works that were more general.

Naoko Minegishi, I am wrapped, I wrap (16” x 12.5”, to 18” x 21”, oil on canvas or paper)

Tsukushi Hibi, The Tree of Life—Deko and Boko (Bumpiness) (17.7” x 8.9” each, mixed media)
An example is Naoko Minegishi’s series entitled I am wrapped, I wrap (16” x 12.5”, to 18” x 21”, oil on canvas or paper) with which she wanted to express nostalgia. Her all embracing warmth is conveyed in rich impastos of color and texture that recalls malleable layers of creaminess. The subject can be read as a cushiony sofa chair in warm greens under-painted with red alluding the Matissian metaphor for restfulness. This shape is overlain at its top portion by a graffitoed circle containing broken dashes that is painterly rather than linear thereby conveying mellowness.  
 
Tsukushi Hibi engages with the idea of the tree as a network of human life not literally, but conceptually growing and shrinking, smooth and bumpy, square and circular, that like human relationships meets and separates, become entangled and then free from each other. Hibi’s series The Tree of Life—Deko and Boko (Bumpiness) (17.7” x 8.9” each, mixed media) expresses metamorphosis depicting a semicircular shape that begins in a gray panel and continues in the next red one gradually becoming a squared off form. Hibi’s shapes constantly change from one panel to the next an element that serves as catalyst maintaining tension between all 24 panels in this series.

Matsuno Moroi, Prehistoric Organisms (From the Imaginary Scenery series) (21.9” x 21” x 14.6”, mixed media)
 
 
Matsuno Moroi’s sculptural installations ultimately strive for the origin of truth with her works Prehistoric Organisms (From the Imaginary Scenery series) (21.9” x 21” x 14.6”, mixed media) as a stage in this process of discovering the source of life. Although her search is about life’s origins her artistic vocabulary varies and so does her context. Moroi uses Japanese paper that can be shaped while damp according to her conception to become specific pieces relating to their specific spatial topography and placement.

Each of these women artists share a common language which is abstract but in addition to this, through their works they evince a desire to bring about a unity, wrapped in beauty that rather than being convulsive is tranquil and fruitful.

 

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