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Art Review:
Arika Someya—New Work


Arika Someya abuses her materials. She covers sheets of wood with motor oil and dabs bleach onto velvet fabric. These methods may seem destructive, but they yield visually seductive results.

Someya, a winner of the 1999 Phillip Morris Art Award, marks time in the patterns of seepage and draws monochrome trompe l'oeil paintings in controlled fades. Paintings from two of her series, "Decolor" and "Soak," are up now at Kenji Taki Gallery in Nishi-Shinjuku (not far from Tokyo Opera City Gallery).

Soak-Black (curtain), 1999-2002, plywood, India ink, and motor oil, 243 x 244cm

Someya applies bleach to red and crimson velvet in the "Decolor" paintings. As the name suggests, the bleach de-colors the fabric. Soft, blurry, watercolor-like images fade into the rich surface, evoking the fuzzy photorealism of Vermeer.

Only, being velvet, they really are fuzzy. Seen from different positions, the fabric is first shiny then matte, the image appears then disappears.
On squarish pieces of red velvet, Someya has painted round trompe l'oeil frames containing details from Rembrandt and Goya. These unstretched paintings hang casual and loose from the wall. The double illusion—fake depth on wavy fabric—is enhanced by a ray of bleach that seems to shine across the painting.

Level and Level 1, two long rectangular pieces where deep crimson velvet is stretched like canvas, are the most striking. Abstract patterned floors (a darkened mosque, the edge of a rug?) appear on the bottom edge of the paintings. The extreme perspective is like the view of a dog lying with its chin on the ground. Only the dog can't see more than a few feet ahead because the illumination stops at the doorway behind him: The de-colored image, strong and clear at the bottom, slowly fades into the light-swallowing depths of unadulterated fabric.

Patterns are another recurring motif in Someya's work. In the past, she has dabbled in jam and used the carbon layer left from barbecued meat to form her delicate interweavings. For the two "Soak" pieces here, she uses motor oil and ink on wood panels.

These paintings take an almost opposite approach to time and control to the "Decolor" pieces. Whereas Someya arrests the bleach by washing the "Decolor" paintings in water, her "Soak" works continue to evolve as the motor oil slowly saturates the wood. The two panels of the large diptych Soak-Black (curtain) 1999-2002 were painted years apart. The side-by-side comparison reveals how, over time, carefully constructed geometric patterns in oil (what could pass for silk-screen) flow into and along the wood grain, running together to form new, meandering paths.
"Soak" paintings are also sensitive to seasonal changes, especially airborne moisture. Though still basically shades of dark grays, the contrast between the oil and the inked wood is greatest in the dry winter. During rainy season, the distinctions blur and nearly disappear.

The distinct smell of the panels permeates the gallery. Not exactly a car repair shop. Maybe a German auto parts store.
Someya, 41, lives and works in Mie Prefecture.

Kenji Taki Gallery
Until Mar 9. Hatsudai stn (Keio New Line), east exit or Tochomae stn (Toei Oedo line), exit A4. Nishi-Shinjuku 3-18-2. Tue-Sat 1-7pm. Tel: 03-3378-6051. www2.odn.ne.jp/kenjitaki

Photo courtesy Kenji Taki Gallery

ART ARCHIVE:
449: Between Reality and Dreams: 19th Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum
448: Quobo: Art in Berlin 1989-99
447: Scandinavian Landscape Painting in the 19th Century
446: Peter Bellars: Par for the Course
445: Doug Aitken: New Ocean
444: Andrea Zittel: A-Z Garments Series
443: Sebastiao Salgado: Exodus
442: Dumb Type: Voyages
441: Tadanori Yokoo: All Things in the Universe
440: Jean-Marc Bustamante: Private Crossing
439: Joan Miro : 1918-1945
438: Modern Paintings of Mongolia
437: Manit Sriwanichpoom: Bangkok in Pink
436: French Drawings from the British Museum: From Fontainebleau to Versailles
435: Muneteru Ujino: Japan Series
434: Photography Today 2: Site/Sight
433: Rirkrit Tiravanija and Raymond Pettibon
432: Three Young Artists from Korea
431: Dynastic Heritage of Korea
430: Seoul Pop
429: Dreams & Goals
428: Since Godzilla
427: Yoshihiro Suda + Tetsuya Nakamura: Un Monde Revé de la Main
426: GA Houses Project 2002
425: Sesshu: 500th Anniversary
424: Luis Barragan: The Quiet Revolution
423: The Mori Arts Center/Young Video Artists Initiative
422: The Adventures of Tintin
421: Session - Super Eccentric of Japan's Warring States Period
420: Jorge Pardo
419: Artists Without Borders
418: Dennis Hollingsworth
417: Masterworks from the Prado Museum
416: JAM: Tokyo-London
415: Digital Beauties
414: Arika Someya
413: MOMAT
412: NW House
411: Mariko Mori
410: Sonia Delaunay
409: Buckminster Fuller
408: Wusheng Wang
407: Tokyo Architecture #2
406: Tokyo Architecture #1
405: The Art Ahead
404: Table Manners
403: Tom Sanford at Tomoya Saito Gallery
402: Nambanga: An Anthology of World Manga
401: Masterworks from MoMA
400: Spencer Tunick: Nude Adrift

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Issues 499-
Issues 399-

 

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