On Friday, January 12th, 2018, NY-based writer, editor, independent curator, artist and lecturer, Paul Laster, held an artist critique session here at Onishi Gallery for international group exhibition ‘Winter Group I’ through Onishi Project.
In this session, for the first in a series of annual group exhibitions through this project, Paul interprets the many artworks within this diverse group, varying in mediums and origins, and offers his interpretation and evaluation. Through Onishi Project, we offer these critiques to help the participating emerging artists in their development and to introduce a re-evaluation of the artists works through the eyes of a professional critic.
Onishi Project’s ‘Winter Group Show I’ consists of eight international artists hailing from Japan, France, Spain, India, and Canada, with works consisting of 3D holographic mandalas, acrylic and oil paintings, monochromatic photography, installation and more.
Here we will go through each artist’s critiques one by one as lead by critic Paul Laster:
Artist: Bruno Levy Truffert, France
Paul expresses that it is important for one to see these impressive 3D holographic works in person with the eye, to experience it’s movement as well as it still. The critic states “Bruno’s lenticular screen collages are fascinating. Masterly made, his moving mandalas are chock-full of symbolic content. He uses historical imagery in philosophical ways to comment on man’s desires.” Paul concluded that each piece conveys elements of desire, money and love, with Bruno’s choice of monumental structures portrayed, as well as his use of deity and governmental symbolism.
Artist: Angeline Payne, Canada
As Paul states, Angeline’s work seems to take on a style from another time. She layers with many different levels of abstraction; rubbing away layer by layer, revealing the reds behind the blues, and then streaks of whites. Paul sees a certain haunting type of form in her work, revealing some sort of force that’s ‘behind’ the painting. Referring to Angeline’s ‘City Lights’ piece, “It’s almost like a rainy day (and its) haunting aspect of seeing things in a fog-like state, for example from exhaustion, (watching the) city rain in a taxi, zooming past things, looking down an alley way, dark and muted; like how you would see reality through an abstract filter – things become blurred and altered.” (referring to the ‘City Lights’ piece) Paul saw a certain level of force and energy in her works. He also noticed that in addition to her older style of painting, she also has a certain way of signing her works, he referred to is as “similar to that of Picasso” with a sense of delicacy and consciousness of being an artist. Also, he noticed that the framing fits the period of work and the gold of the framework shows lots of the artist’s sincerity for the works.
Artist: Kimihiro Koike, Japan
“Psychedelic and surreal” were the critiques first thoughts. The landscapes, which were both surreal and from life, were reminiscent of a scene within a dream, or a sci-fi film. Some aspects were hallucinogenic as the viewer starts to see things in an alternate reality. Paul liked the artists use of Photoshop alteration, where one can see filtering effects like that of an etching or print. He can see that artist’s influence in combining 21st century technology with that of traditional Japanese photography, especially in the work ‘Illusion III’ which seems to portray Mt. Fuji behind a bare tree. The critic stressed that he would love to see these digital works large scale and suggests the artist to look into installing the digitally manipulated photography on “a whole wall or mural – vinyl prints that cover the whole wall, may in a hotel lobby or room. I would stay there.”
Artist: Miho Murakami, Japan
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at Miho’s work is the abundance of apples. Paul notes that “like artist Yayoi Kusama, the apples are very symbolic, like that of Adam and Eve in the West. Apples are a form that we can recognize.” He notes that Miho has mastered the painting of the apple, a recurring subject in her works. She knows how to create light and form, similarly to that of artist Kenny Scharf and his portrayal of donuts in his works. The artist sees the apple as a symbol of the ‘heart’, which was influenced after her experience of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. Paul can see the apple as a very positive symbol, it has a “joyful outlook from something so traumatic” and the work’s symbolism is “somewhat therapeutic.” He notes that in her works, specifically referring to ‘Song of Praise’, Miho makes something realistic play with abstraction and illusion, which are hidden at first glance. He playfully wonders if in her neighborhood, she is known as the “Apple Lady.”
Artist: Sheetal Shaw, India
In this group showing, this artist chose to show work on canvas alongside her sculpture. Paul immediately saw the relationship in the forms between the two mediums. They use a similar fluid-type of motion, same but different, in the sense that “if you were a collector, you might buy one of these (referring to her sculpture) but then you might see the painting and think that would go well with this” but not know that the works are by the same artist. Paul noticed that the works on canvas and the sculpture have a relationship in the sense that they are not exactly repeating the same form, but similar forms, and when seen on canvas, the piece becomes illusionistic. The way that Sheetal paints all the way around the canvas makes it being to look more like a 3D object, which is a nice relation to the sculptures. Paul sees that the artist is “objectifying the painting in an interesting way” and there are certain elements in the painting where the “points become curvilinear and move back in on themselves” to create a ‘push and pull’ effect, between the foreground and background of the piece in a repeated fashion. Paul could see that Sheetal is interested in creating a dynamic with her works and would love to see the sculptures at a much larger scale, perhaps in an outdoor space, like a town square or even in the lobby of a building. “She has good things to work with, and they seems to be unique on their own.”
Artist: Taka Horii, Japan
Taka, who works exclusively with traditional Japanese paper and inks, resonated with Paul in that it “has a certain expressionistic aspect and delicacy to it. It’s exposed, but calming, like looking at the landscape terrain looking from the window of an airplane.” The combination of Japanese washi paper and ink become very versatile and the way that the artworks are displayed, in a ‘relief’ fashion, gives a kind of rebellious feel to the works, with the crumpled, treated papers exposed to the open air, like the artist is “responding to the refuse of life” like a person slumped down on the street, with people passing by one and by, paying no mind to the person, until one day, someone stops to acknowledge the person and from that moment, the have a life. If you sit with these works for an extended period of time, you start to imagine things materializing and other realities take shape in the abstraction. Paul liked how the artist “let himself go, let accidents happen. The accidents are joyful but also controlled.”
Artist: Tomoya Takeshita, Japan
Tomoya’s monochromatic photography uses elements of movement from the live model and the folds and shadow of fabric and drapery to create very dramatic effects. Paul expresses that the folds give texture and play with shadow and light, creating something somewhat surreal. Referring to one of the ‘Into the Shell’ works within this exhibition, Paul says the figure “conveys the aspect of dance but it is also hidden, with the body nude, there is a certain level of seduction, but not in the curvaceous sense, but more like a seduction by how the the drapery folds fall, like sculptures you would see in Italy.” The critic discussed that in traditional Japanese photography, there have been many strong black and white works and he sees Tomoya’s as very theatrical and thinks that the poetry aspect to go along with each piece adds a nice touch, bringing one back to tradition, to the 1970’s, such as the style of photographers Wolfgang Tillmans or Cindy Sherman. Most photographers do not put poetry or writings with their works these days. “It can seem dated by the format is playful and shows multiple images that create a narrative with feelings of movement and dance, theatrical relationship and consciousness of theatrical forms.”
Artist: Tatiana Rivero Sanz, Spain
Tatiana’s installation, taking inspiration from what surrounds her in nature, depicts a white butterfly in a giant vegetable garden. Paul liked the idea of the artist creating a space for people to walk into, a very inviting space, like that of a chapel, or cave; a safe place. Paul states that the “form is very painterly, nest-like” and that there is a “feeling like that of being in a fog.” He uses an example of the artist portraying the work as the world being veiled, like how a woman wearing a veil in Western countries to create a sense of drama, distance and desire. The critic sees the installation as creating ambiance and a narrative, even though you might not know what the narrative is when first looking at the piece. He playfully refers to the work as a “nice vegetable pâté.”