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Sunday, February 14, 2010

JAPANESE PAINTER - MASARU SHICHINOHE, JAPANESE NEO SURREALISM

Paintings by Masaru Shichinohe

Masaru Shichinohe is almost unknown outside of Japan, and yet if you admire Kokusyoku Sumire, you necessarily have had to do with his work, as the artist collaborated on the art work of the two baroque lolitas’ albums. However, there is still more to learn about this Japanese painter whose bizarre characters and scenes are some reminiscence of the surrealism movement. The painter has, indeed, 18 books published under his own name, unfortunately available only in Japanese.


Masaru Shichinohe’s oeuvres are small (about 30 x 30 cm), painted on wood panels and with acrylic paint, which, if it is classical in the world of illustration, is a little more unorthodox in the world of painting. Then, these wooden panels are themselves framed by the master. The artist uses many layers and sub-layers of painting, installing a kind of dark shadow, on which he gives proportions, using dry brushes, painting lighter and lighter layers, which gradually reveal details - sometimes using stencils to delineate areas - and matter. And it is with all finesse, as the paintings are of a smooth and almost lacquered aspect. He finally takes care to add some transparency touches of light, to provide a concept of reflection and volume, on metal subjects for example.

Like the artistic movement defined by André Breton, Masaru Shichinohe’s paintings therefore respond well to these association of ideas led by the omnipotence of dreams, and smashing the rationality of thought, to make a room for a kind of strange mathematics, a cabale, dare I’d say, we would be tempted to decipher.

What we can say of Masaru Shichinohe’s work is that it is at least constant, making the imaginary, proportions, distances, etc, fly away. The vision is often double. The most obvious is the female character dressed as a nurse who sees a parallel in the character of the shounen (little boy) whose faces are strikingly similar; and for good reason, if you know the face of the perpetrator of these small paintings, you’d see a strange resemblance between the features of the master and his subjects.




Then there are the diving beetles, which often present the nurse and the shounen face to face, echoes exacerbated and extremely controlled, where the boy and the girl are directed at each other but yet separated in limited frameworks. The character of the rabbit - I say character because Masaru Shichinohe gives to this animal a strange human touch by painting the white of the eye balls when animal don’t have this so specific human detail – is as present as the moon, which would be replaced from time to time by a clock. Frames are enclosed in frames, doors enclosed in frames, in a sort of a little scary dream from which we couldn’t escape.

Then there are the diptychs, which often present the nurse and the shounen face to face, echoes exacerbated and extremely controlled, where the boy and the girl are directed at each other but yet separated in limited frameworks. The character of the rabbit - I say character because Masaru Shichinohe gives to this animal a strange human touch by painting the white of the eye balls when animal don’t have this so specific human detail – is as present as the moon, which would be replaced from time to time by a clock. Frames are enclosed in frames, doors enclosed in frames, in a sort of a little scary dream from which we couldn’t escape.

And yet the spaces are wide open, the painter having fun by to blowing up landmarks, distance, size, placing a stairway in a vacuum, a little school desk in a meadow which looks like a strangely calm down sea offering the horizon to infinity, and floors without walls ... Floors, often replaced by chessboards, a mathematical symbol. Time and logic seem to defy man and his proportion to control everything.




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