Sunday, September 23, 2018

Yayoi Kusama

self portrait  1950
oil on canvas  34 x 34 cm
Yayoi Kusama
It was extraordinary for a woman from a small town in Japanese hinterland to achieve the degree of artistic attention that Yayoi Kusama had at such a young age.  She described her early, compulsive art making as a refuge from the frought familial relationships she had.  She also said that her art was a retreat from her own psychological symptoms.  For Kusama, productivity is crucial to her mental health.  This post is about her early work made when she was 23 - 30 years old.
Island No. 7 1953
watercolour and pastel on paper  30.5 x 26.5 cm
Yayoi Kusama


"I am pursuing art in order to correct the disability which began in my childhood."  Y.K..
Dots on the Sun  1953
watercolour and pastel on paper 25 x 26 cm
Yayoi Kusama
She was born March 22, 1929, the youngest of 4 children.  Her family raised seeds in nurseries, and then on December 7, 1941, when she was 12 years old, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and her country was at war.  She had to go work in a parachute and military uniform factory.

She experimented early with materials and technique and set out to teach herself western style oil painting.
no. 8 H.A.P. 1956
oastel, gouache, acrylic on paper  58.4 x 45.7 cm
Yayoi Kusama
In March 1952, she turned 23, and had her first solo exhibition in her home village of Matsumoto.  It consisted of 250 pieces, and then she mounted a second one 7 months later, also in Matsumuoto.  She was noticed and offered an exhibition in Tokyo.   She had three more exhibitions over the next 13 months in Tokyo.
Her face, like Warhol's, is inseparable from her work.
No. White A.Z. 1958-59  (detail)
oil on canvas  210 x 414 cm
Yayoi Kusama
"For art like mine, art that does battle at the border of life and death, questioning what we are and what it means to live and die, Japan is too small, too servile, too feudalistic, too scornful of women.  My art needs a more unlimited freedom and a wider world.  "  Yayoi Kasuma
No. B White 1959  detail
oil on canvas  226 c 298 cm
Yayoi Kusama
In 1959 she moved to the USA to escape  the masculine and deeply conservative Japan of the 1950's.  Then in 1973, she went back home.
Infinity Nets (white) 1959  detail
oil on canvas  131 x 117.5 cm
Yayoi Kusama
While in New York City,  (October of 1959) she organized her own solo show at the 10th st co-operative gallery.  It was of her white monochrome canvases, the infinity net paintings.
No. T.W.3 1961  detail
oil on canvas  174 x 125 cm
Yayoi Kusama
Before websites.  Before blogs
She did it herself.
She was an avid self-publicists.  A writer of manifestos.
Accumulation No. 1  1962 
sewn and stuffed fabric, paint, fringe on chair frame, 121 x 121 x 121 cm
Yayoi Kusama
In the early 60's, she covered sofas and chairs with stuffed phallic protuberances.
This re-invention of her art, was unexpected and gained her publicity.
Accumulation  1963 
sewn and stuffed fabric, wood chair frame, paint  90 x 97.8 x 88.9 cm
  Yayoi Kusama
In the 1970's she began to write her autobiography.  She says her work is linked to the hallucinatory episodes from her childhood.  For many critics, her mental health is one of the most fascinating aspects of her career.
self obliteration no. 2   1967
watercolour, pen, pastel, photocollage on paper  40 x 50 cm 
Yayoi Kusama
In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale.
Yayoi Kusama continued to show new work alongside much younger artists in the biennial and triennial circuit international art scene.  She lives in Tokyo today, and has a team of dedicated assistants.   She continues to exhibit to even wider acclaim each year.  Her new installations are based on the Infinity Mirrors that she began making in 1966.

Text in this post is derived from the introduction to the Tate Modern's catalogue for Kusama's 2012 exhibition written by Frances Morris.  The images are also from that book.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

April Martin new work : Three recent exhibitions 2017-2018

Recent MFA graduate from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (sculpture, 2016), April Martin is an interdisciplinary artist who works with sun, wind, water, salt, copper and time.  In November and December of 2017 she exhibited in Chicago in two separate exhibitions, and in January 2018, she installed a solo exhibition in Sudbury, northern Ontario Canada.

Above is Blue Print, copper verdigris on stitched muslin
from the exhibition entitled Mounting Tension at ACRE PROJECTS, Chicago.
April was inspired to respond to the terrazzo floor in ACRE projects.
The three vessels above are entitled Like a Lake
bisqued earthware filled with miracle gro and water
and in front of them is
Live Wire 
copper, l.e.d.s and lithium batteries
The miracle gro seeps into the body of the vessels and onto the floor so that  Like a Lake becomes a visual example of the effects of time .

Also in Chicago, at Roots and Culture, Martin exhibited three more sculptures and collaborated to make a video with Ruby T.
I Lived On Air 
pieced linen textile

In this constructed  textile the artist used a code to record the variety of beds that she slept in during 2017, when she took part in five separate month-long residencies in the USA and Europe.
The striped fabric was cut, flipped, angled, and pieced back together in a variety of ways to represent the people with whom, and the places where, she was tucked in.
A line from The Waves (above)
copper and ladder tape
A slightly narrower (and shinier) variation on the copper blind sculpture that April created for her MFA in 2016. (here), it is remarkably affected by the slightest change of light and air movement.
Pair of Jugs
glazed stoneware.

Challenging herself with a nearly impossible kiln firing, these two sets of vessels have inter-laced handles, as if two female friends are arm in arm. 
April studied at McGill University (BA 2009) and Concordia (BFA 2014) in Montreal and the third exhibition in this post brings several sculptures inspired by the old factories in that city together with brand-new textile and paper collages that she created at Women's Studio Workshop in upstate New York in 2017.  To construct the factories, the artist made moulds from tin cans, drinking straws and PVC pipe and then cast them with thin clay slip to make components which were assembled into playful sculptures and fired in the kiln. 
She also constructed custom metal plinths for each of the sculptures.   The twelve sculptures in the exhbition are each untitled, two are shown above with the textile and monoprint collage, Airy.
Also included in this exhibition (entitled Effloresence) are three hand-built sculptures.
Above is Pink Hill., ceramic.
Copper is a constant material in all three of April's exhibitions.  The factory sculptures were glazed with copper oxide (and also cobalt and iron oxides) and some are displayed on sheets of copper.  In the middle of the above photo is Montreal (hand built ceramic) with Windy, mono-print with textile collage above.
The sculptures were fired twice.  Once for forming the base and then again to fix the oxide glazes.  Martin won an award from Concordia for this body of work.
The largest scupture in the exhibition is entitled Royal Mountain, referring to the famous mountain in the city of Montreal, Mount Royal.  Hand built from thin pieces of clay, it was a technical feat to have it succeed in the kiln.  Behind the sculpture is a glimpse of Breezy, a monopint approximately 32" x 40" with textile collage (2017).

April Martin

April Martin is a sculptor from North Ontario. Her work embraces the scale of shared living, breathing, heating, melting. She holds a BA from McGill University and a BFA from Concordia in Montreal. In 2016 she completed her MFA in Sculpture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a recipient of The International Sculpture Centre’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award as well as the Legacy Grant from Women’s Studio Workshop (New York). She has installed outdoor works in Humboldt Park (Chicago) and Franconia Sculpture Park (Minnesota). Recently she has participated in residencies at AZ West (California), Teton Art Lab (Wyoming) and Emergency (Switzerland), exhibited work at Roots & Culture (Chicago) and performed at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). 
(above text from Acre press release)

exhibition with Ruby T.   Moving through walls and Floors at Roots and Culture - Chicago
exhibition with Courtney Mackedanz and Erica Raberg   Mounting Tension at Acre - Chicago
and a solo exhibition    Effloresence at The Northern Artist Gallery - Sudbury 

April Martin is our daughter.
In the spring of 2017, she and Jordan Rosenow collaborated to make this 34 foot sculpture that is installed in Franconia Sculpture park in Minnesota entitled 'we move still.  steel and fabric