|At Joshua Liner Gallery in NYC through August 8th.|
548 West 28th Street, N.Y., N.Y.
Words & Photos by J.L. Schnabel
Joshua Liner Gallery showcases the fantastic feminine art of two foreigners; Yumiko Kayukawa from Japan (but based here in Seattle) and Canadian artist Ben Tour. Both artists are firmly established in the Pop Surrealist set, each having multiple, previous successful shows. While the subject matter of the artists in similar in theory; the female form and her relation to others and her surroundings, the executions of the work were at polar opposites.
Ben Tour likes to make a mess. His work is coated with fluid washes, layers of dripping paint and the crisp letters of a diminishing collection of vintage letterpress rub-ons that he found while working as a garbage man. The fluid energy of the paint application creates a kinetic anxiety around the work, as the women's hair and skin literally drips of the large canvases. Bloody lips suggest darker, more horrific elements, yet these suggestions are balanced by the gentle yet piercing gazes of the figures. The turbulent moods of the subjects in the pieces work in harmony with one another as they all share a similar color palette that is dominated by shades of bright blue and navy. The inclusion of the letters adds a stylistic element that Tour is known for, but exists simply as further ornamentation rather than as narrative elements or secret codes. At times the figures are alone in their silent revelry such as in the large 'Grief Girl' which pictures a nude form holding herself while seemingly floating, her face contorted in anger or pain. In other works, the figures are coupled; in 'Shroud', a large bust protects a reclining nude in proximity to a vintage telephone that suggests verbal communication and noir. While this series remains as a further, successful extension of Tour's style and talent, he mentioned a desire to work on an even large scale, perhaps by painting huge work on the side of buildings and to also work on more narrative pieces.
In stark contrast to the dynamic movement in Tour's pieces, Kayukawa employs a near supernatural approach to her line work. The crisp black outlines have a precision that suggests the steadiest of hands and immaculate patience. Existing within all her work is the repetition of a familiar faced female figure who seems to live multiple lives as she is repeated in each canvas. She is often paired with an animal or cluster of animals, suggesting a comfort and kinship that recalls the Native American spiritual connection with animals. The core of the work remains ultra feminine as the figures are often clad in fashionable clothes with the sweetest of treats and are often created in bright, pop colors. Here, however, the presence of small, bloody wounds suggest the strong warrior nature of the female, unafraid to get her knee bloodied, such as in 'One Monkey Can Stop The Show' which depicts a reclining figure in traditional kimono. The charming work resonates with layers of spirituality, youth, and enjoyment of the natural world.
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