Juxtapositions of Ambiguity: Paintings and Sculptures that explore the human body

Often attempting to artificially create some connection between two artists work based on a vague stylistic similarity can be difficult.

poster for Tomoko Nagai & Takumi Sanuki Exhibition

Tomoko Nagai & Takumi Sanuki Exhibition

at Tokyo Arts and Space Hongo
in the Chiyoda area
This event has ended - (2007-06-09 - 2007-07-01)

In Reviews by Rachel Carvosso 2007-06-26

In this exhibition, the two artists’ works, which are interspersed throughout the space, act to counterbalance and compliment each other, in colour, size and theme. The first image you see when enter the room is one of Izumi Kato’s vibrant, bisected figures; despite each piece’s smaller size, this body of work dominates the space.

The figures are reminiscent of foetuses and his use of negative space gives the painting an interesting ambiguity. Both artists’ images focus on figures in space, particularly on amorphous space. Where Kato’s colour is phosphorous, Masahiko Kuwahara’s palette is more neutral. His female figures, pigs and shapes all share an ancestry of creamy browns and pinks, however they avoid becoming overly saccharine. Instead, the loose brushstrokes and marks merge together to form a pleasing image and texture. The figures depicted are characters and women whose outlines become as much a part of the painterly brushwork as the surface colours. The forms are both contained in the field of the image and merged in with the painting’s surface.

The two-dimensional work is well balanced by the three sculptures on display – two by Kato and one by Kuwahara. In the right corner Kato’s imposing sculpture of a female figure is roughly carved with strong angular features that echo the faces in the paintings on the first wall. What really delighted me, however, was the small figure, barely noticeable at a first glance. It nestles in the lower left hand corner. Made from wood and flat canvas it is filled with the same sense of ambiguity as the paintings. Facing away from the larger figure it clings to the corner of the wall but despite its heavy wooden head still seems less vulnerable. The juxtaposition of the two allows for different reading: symbiotic figures with various pseudo-psychological connotations of the mother-child dynamic. They are seem totemic and primitive, echoing various ancient sculptures and yet their faces are characterized by a cuteness that suggests a relevance to contemporary characters.

If you have the time, it is definitely worth venturing up to the second and third floors of the gallery. Floor two features the brightly colored and layered world of Tomoko Nagai, a new emerging artist. Speaking to her in the gallery/studio she was happy to share her inspirations, which include the music of Joanna Newsome, various plastic objects and figures she has collected and a love of putting interesting and surprising combinations of objects together as a kind of staged narrative. Her paintings are beguiling in their deliberate use of multiple perspectives and attention to texture and layers.

Floor three contains the student winner of the Tokyo Wonder Wall competition to find and support new artistic talent. In a room painted to match the subtly off-blue of his flat backgrounds, Takumi Sanuki’s images loom like delicate pieces of meat or strange flesh-like sculpture. An interesting foray into painterly matter. Tokyo Wonder Site could perhaps be named Tokyo ForeSight as its continued nurturing of young talent and insightful takes on Japanese sensibility will no doubt continue to influence the Tokyo Art Scene in years to come.

Rachel Carvosso

Rachel Carvosso. Born in the year of the horse in upmarket Chelsea, she spent the majority of her childhood in rural Devon playing bows and arrows and making clothes for the fairies out of small flowers and shrubbery. Studying Art in Oxford she discovered a world of magic and mystery that inspired writers such as CS Lewis, Tolkien and more recently Phillip Pullman. Various roles have been assumed over the ensuing years - artist, teacher, social worker, writer. She is currently working on a collection of poetry and drawings and researching Environmental/Social Arts. » See other writings

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