Sanya Kantarovsky “Paradise”

Taka Ishii Gallery Tokyo

poster for Sanya Kantarovsky “Paradise”
[Image: Sanya Kantarovsky, “Woe to Wit” (2019) Woodblock print on washi paper 47 x 33cm ©Sanya Kantarovsky]

This event has ended.

Taka Ishii Gallery is pleased to present “Paradise”, an exhibition featuring four paintings and four woodblock prints created by Sanya Kantarovsky in collaboration with The Adachi Institute of Woodcut prints in Tokyo. In the lower gallery, a series of diminutive paintings expands on the tone of the exhibition above, presenting a group of unsavory faces.

During a month-long stay at the Troedsson villa in Nikko, Kantarovsky developed a series of ink and watercolor studies, which were translated into an edition of woodblock prints through the expert craftsmanship of the Adachi Hanga printmakers. In the tradition of Edo-period Ukiyo-e prints that draw on Kabuki and Noh theater, Kantarovsky’s set of images indulges in pictorial drama. Closely considering the work of such masters as Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kantarovsky refers to a tradition of dark and satirical image-making through specific visual notes — a bare foot emerges from beneath a gown, a seabird gazes indifferently at a grisly assault, a child receives the restraining touch of his elders. These haptic themes are transmuted through the subtlest occasions of line and color, scrubbed, veiled, piled and blurred with a persistent restlessness.

As the works in “Paradise” were developed consecutively as woodblock prints and paintings, they evidence the gaps and values of these approaches, each laden with its own distinct history. The variations between the two serve as clues to how a picture is conjured and built up, suspended in different registers of seeing and making. Whereas the prints are graphically fixed, “sealed” in their commitments to the image, the paintings expand on these positions with a sense of unstable possibility. Narrative cohesion remains out of reach, and a looker is prompted to enter these oneiric scenes through a heap of simultaneities – past and present, attractive and repellant, thin and thick.

Sanya Kantarovsky’s artistic practice revolves around painting, oftentimes incorporating film, animation, sculpture, design, and curatorial projects. His paintings take aim at imagined human subjects, which are often entangled in a variety of discomforts, both psychological and physical. On these painted stages, dissonant frequencies of seduction and repulsion vie for the viewer’s attention. The artist interrogates how desire itself can be rendered, as it contorts the faces of pleading children, leering old men, rootless cosmopolitans, and the hungry masses. Drawing on the history of humanist painting and caricature, Kantarovsky’s subjects seem proud to have been rendered and simultaneously embarrassed to exist at this elevation, embodying a doubt that echoes the artist’s own fraught relationship with the project of painting. This indulgence in affect is marked with a wry self-reflexivity, acknowledging the futility of faithfully transmuting lived experience.



from January 24, 2020 to February 22, 2020

Opening Reception on 2020-01-24 from 18:00 to 20:00



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