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).
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.
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
The distinct smell of the panels permeates the gallery. Not exactly a
car repair shop. Maybe a German auto parts store.
Kenji Taki Gallery
Photo courtesy Kenji Taki Gallery
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