Gallery News & Events
10 March through 29 April 2006
Reception: Friday 10 March 7-9 pm
Jan Baum Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Japanese born, Los Angeles based artist Takako Yamaguchi. In her most recent body of work, Yamaguchi addresses the question of “semi-abstraction”, the genre common to most all her efforts as an artist. This new work asks: “Is the semi-abstract image to be understood as an aesthetic compromise-neither fish nor fowl-and thus a failure of nerve? Or is the refusal to commit, implied in semi-abstract painting, a principled recognition of the tension between art and reality?” In lieu of an answer, Yamaguchi takes the question and makes it over into the content of her art. These medium-size (about three by four foot) oil and bronze leaf on canvas paintings fall within the longstanding landscape and seascape tradition. And to be sure, the most beautiful and familiar elements-land, sea and sky-are all present and accounted for. But in this work, the artist focuses upon and then radically reconfigures the basic building blocks of the genre. Thus Yamaguchi weaves storm clouds into new shapes that reference the distinctly human customs of fabric making and hair braiding. Likewise, mountains are sometimes realized as sharp geometric elements of a sort unknown to nature, while the ocean takes form first as soft rolling waves, reappearing later as a series of narrow and precisely executed horizontal stripes in the style of some late 20th Century abstract painting. Again, it is the presumed tension between art and reality and between abstraction and representation, which lies at the heart of Yamaguchi’s project. There is a line from the notebook of the poet Wallace Stevens that applies here: “All our ideas come from the natural world. Trees = umbrellas.” In these new paintings Yamaguchi begins with abstraction, a product of the human imagination, and then works backwards to a fresh understanding of reality, nature and landscape, thus reversing Steven’s formula so that umbrellas might = trees.