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With high-quality artworks, welcoming owners and an adorable gallery dog, Fiumano Clase is a joy to visit. Their current show, 円熟 (Enjuku), is Takefumi Hori’s third UK solo exhibition.
The works seem deceptively simple at first glance. Yet, seeing them up close often reveals heavily textured images that offer shimmering gold leaf, thick layered paint and interesting ideas about the place of perfection in art.
‘Enjuku’ – meaning maturity, perfection and ripeness – is an apt title, summarising the harmonious balance and sophisticated depth of meaning in the works.
It could be argued that the confidence, originality and impressive technical ability behind the artworks shows both maturity and ripeness. The perfection that is referenced in the title is perhaps the most subjective description, and also the most thought-provoking.
With confident, straight-edged blocks painted over some paintings, and incredible free-hand circles sitting within others, the works do seem impossibly perfect for a human hand.
However, notions of perfection seem to be subtly challenged in this exhibition.
Some images are strongly divided in half with gold and touches of colour in one section, and solidly painted blocks in the other; they seem to have a perfect split.
Although, within the bold blocks there are occasional gaps through the otherwise solid layer of paint. For example, in Gold & Gold XVII, the gaps reveal the upper half’s intricate pattern beneath, showing that the gold design may be largely hidden, but it is actually spread across the whole canvas.
The gaps through the paint of these blocks, as well as their uneven textures, could easily be interpreted as imperfections. Presenting such works under the title ‘Enjuku’ seems to raise questions of art’s subjectivity, as it is a matter of opinion whether it should be the artist or the viewer (or both) who could decide if an image is perfect.
Equally, the circles may look impossibly perfect for an artist’s hand, but the very slight unevenness of their edges breaks the illusion of exact precision. This only adds to the overall exhibition as the title’s meaning rings quietly behind the works to offer fascinating ideas about the potential for perfection within Hori’s work, as well as within art in general.
‘Enjuku’ is a subjective exhibition, exploring subjective themes; perfection may be unattainable, but the ripe maturity with which it is explored here clearly reflects skill and artistic intuition.
At Fiumano Clase, Bruno the gallery dog quietly potters around the small exhibition space and there is an always-warm welcome from the gallery co-owner Francesca Fiumano; the themes in Hori’s artworks may be complex and debatable, but they are placed within an inclusive and inviting space that allows you to voice the questions they raise.
By Laura Brown
The Washington Post
Japan-bred New Yorker Takefumi Hori’s abstract paintings are coats over many colors. In the pictures in Long View Gallery’s “New Work,” the skin is usually glossy white or gleaming gold, but other hues can be glimpsed below, and amid the scrapes, smudges and scrawls. The layered surfaces suggest wabi (intentionally imperfect) Japanese pottery and approximate the exposed brick of the venue’s walls.
For his previous Long View show, Hori added rich colors to a palette that emphasized white, black and varieties of metallic leaf. Two of the new pictures are evenly divided between battered fields of gold and, respectively, green or blue. But such hues are largely submerged in this selection, which contrasts abstract-expressionist gestures with the pomp of earlier eras’ regal and religious art. The most commanding canvasses feature large gold circles, ideal in form and rough in execution. They are symbols of infinity, tethered to earth.
By Mark Jenkins
Fiumano Projects (London) has works by Takefumi Hori, whose canvases of acrylic paint and gold or silver leaf, layered and removed, sanded and built up, should be much less than they are. They should be less ? less interesting, less seductive ? because someone should have done it before and because the gesture seems too obviously commercial. But in reality these paintings possess the alchemic fascination of Kiefer and the irresistible draw of an intoxicating mystery. They are like Richters but with the bling on the outside.
By Daniel Barnes
The Washington Post
In the galleries: In 'Gilded,' artist Takefumi Hori applies Midas touch
Can a painting be both austere and opulent? That's the tension in the work of Takefumi Hori, currently at Long View Gallery. The show is titled "Gilded," because the Brooklyn-based Japanese artist employs gold (as well as silver and bronze) leaf. In a few of the works, smears of gold embellish paintings of concentric black circles on mostly white fields. Other canvases are dense with metallic leaf and pigments, suggesting abstract expressionism as refashioned by someone with a Midas touch.
Medieval and Renaissance European paintings often employed gold leaf, usually for crowns, halos or other symbols of majesty and divinity. Gold also is seen in Japanese temples and shrines. Whether Western or Eastern, such touches always are applied tidily. But Hori is no exacting goldsmith. Even when he layers metallic hues smoothly, as in a series of small square paintings bisected into choppy and placid halves, there's tumult beneath the glistening surface.
Swathes of black sometimes feature in Hori's paintings, often in undercoats that are largely obscured by the white or gold atop them. But there are no other colors, which is one reason the artist's work suggests the more spartan compositions of such abstract expressionists as Barnett Newman and Robert Motherwell. Hori cites both the energy of New York and his study of calligraphy as influences on his style.
Somehow, though, it all seems to come back to gold. Hori's paintings may draw on such minimalist precedents as Newman's "zips," his term for the vertical lines that punctuated his canvases, and the slashes of black brushwork that propel Sino-Japanese characters to the brink of abstraction. Yet there's nothing stark about precious metals. Their sheen gives these rough-edged paintings a grandeur that's intriguing and perplexing.
By Mark Jenkins
October 10, 2014