at SCAI The Bathhouse
in the Ueno, Yanaka area
This event has ended - (2013-11-20 - 2013-12-25)
Primarily known for his painterly abstractions, Yusuke Komuta’s forays into 3D mobiles and collaborative, sound-based art channel his fascination with origami, paper airplanes, and the brilliant-cut pattern of gemstones into a variety of media at the always-excellent SCAI the Bathhouse. With its modest, yet wide-open layout flooded with natural light and unique building history as a former sento (public bathhouse), SCAI will soon be marking their 25th anniversary of promoting contemporary Japanese artists.
Following his newfound obsession for the brilliant-cut pattern, Komuta presents Round Brilliant #3, a large, stainless steel mirror that has been painstakingly folded and unfolded to “mirror” the appearance of a brilliant-cut diamond viewed from above. Two large, kinetic sculptures consisting of dozens of metallic strips assembled vertically, connected top and bottom, and bloated to form spherical objects, spin ceaselessly like motorized eggbeaters. The larger of the two, Sphere, is suspended from the ceiling. The smaller, Reverse_Eccentricity, is mounted on a plinth and collapses upon itself regularly as it reverses direction.
Komuta’s paintings are mapped from the geometric patterns of large, unfolded objects such as paper airplanes. These patterns of shapes are delineated via various painterly approaches to the canvas (adept color modulation, layering, sanding, airbrushing), which serve to bring the flattened object into a new realm of illusory depth and dimension. SCAI’s write-up of the show points to inspiration from Simultanism (or Orphic Cubism), and particularly Robert Delaunay, as Komuta’s main source of reference for his painting style. It also points to Komuta’s “delightful contribution to the revival of abstraction.” I don’t know how one could revive the perceived “death of painting” that abstraction was thought to bring about, but Komuta’s dedication to his own painting process and his other, more interactive work help to distinguish him from painters simply revisiting past artistic movements.
Mounted on the SCAI “stage,” a raised platform in the main gallery space, is a Technics SL-1200 turntable connected to a pair of headphones and a clear vinyl record mounted on the wall. Closer examination finds another edition of the same record, Komuta’s Brilliant EP, on the turntable for listeners to enjoy. The artist and his accomplice, DJ JaQwa, have cut one of JaQwa’s techno tracks over Komuta’s incised brilliant-cut pattern and pressed the collaboration onto a limited series of vinyl record EPs. The result for the listener is regular, then irregular “bumps” in the track as the needle intermittently passes over Komuta’s etching, adding another sensation to the overall exhibition.