Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Los Angeles, US, 25-28 January, 2018
Berlin-based Canadian artist Beth Letain engages with the history of colour and abstraction. While her works feel minimalist compositionally, they are vivid with strong colour painted on white canvas. Letain’s geometric structures are harmonious and rhythmic, referencing Agnes Martin, Mary Heilmann and the Bauhaus theories of colour. This work is of magnificent scale with lashings of oil and rich pigment, so characteristic of the artist’s style. Her works are simple and enduring.
Ben Quilty recalls he conceived this painting as something of a mask – a Captain Cook mask the artist himself could put on to imagine the world through the eyes of the famous 18th century explorer. Having read extensively through Cook’s diaries, Quilty became fascinated by the man’s initial self belief, an attitude that doubtless contributed to him becoming one of maritime history’s most famous navigators, astronomers and sailors. With the passage of time however, Quilty observed violent changes in Cook’s behaviour toward both his crew and the native populations he encountered.
Cook’s bouts of extreme violence, Quilty along with others postulates, was due in large part to debilitating and personality changing gut conditions, the result of chronic disease. In analysing this change the artist states that ‘Mask’ looks at ‘…the good, the bad and the ugly’. The rorschach technique employed is perfect, providing a multiple image which delves into the human psyche, a reflection and investigation of James Cook the man, and his changing psychological states.
acrylic and natural pigments on Japanese mulberry paper
paper signed and inscribed "Waterfall, H. Senju, 2018" on reverse
130 x 162cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Hong Kong; Private collection, Sydney
Japanese-born painter Hiroshi Senju is noted worldwide for his sublime waterfall and cliff images, which are often monumental in scale. He combines a minimalist visual language rooted in Abstract Expressionism with ancient painting techniques unique to Japan. Senju is widely recognized as one of the few contemporary masters of the thousand-year-old nihonga style of painting, using pigments made from minerals, ground stone, shell and corals suspended in animal-hide glue.
Senju’s work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama, Japan; the Yamatane Museum of Art, Tokyo; Tokyo University of the Arts; and the Kushiro Art Museum, Hokkaido. The Hiroshi Senju Museum in Karuizawa, Japan, opened in 2011 as a gallery devoted in its entirety to the artist’s work.