Kyoto Openings: Taka Ishii and TKG Editions

Jeffrey Rosen and Julia Friedman with Lisa Lapinski’s Tobacco Camel, 2010. Plastic foam, adhesive, Tops and Bali Shag Tobacco, 134.6(L) x 33(W) x 106.7(H) cm

Taka Ishii Kyoto branch is now showing the new work of a Los Angeles artist Lisa Lapinski. The exhibition, entitled “Th th th th th Snow White”  is more complicated than one might expect after reading the oneiric press release which clashes the many fairy tale, fictional and TV characters dear to any five year old. In fact, the “kawaii” element is limited to the smallest room of the gallery, the dark space normally dedicated to videos, but now featuring a nightmarish-looking toddler chair painted as a frowning red creature, an ominous metal shelf overhanging its flat wooden head. The rest of the installation is unapologetically adult. Setting the mood for the exhibition, the first room is dominated by five large floor sculptures—80s swimsuit pinups framed by what looks like ornamental cinder blocks—the familiar vernacular bits of LA architectural landscape. The centerpiece of the second room is a camel sculpture made with real tobacco from the eponymous brand. It reminded me of Ai Weiwei’s tea sculptures shown at the Mori in 2009, but here, the Chinese artist’s cultural critique gives way to socially aloof representation.

Lisa Lapinski, Untitled, 2010, Wallpaper, glue, wood, paint on paper, hardware, 101.6 x 81.3 x 3.8 cm. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Lapinski’s interest in the materials and the processes of art-making comes through in her two-dimensional works—the overpainted layered wallpaper mounted on wood. Reminiscent of artists’ books, these objects reveal the artist’s proclivity for oblique metaphors. As in her 2007 LA MoCA exhibition, the works on view at the Kyoto Taka Ishii gallery bring together disparate notions and objects, prompting the viewer to complete the associational chain.

View of Yutaka Watanabe’s installation. In front: k-001, 2010, mixed media, h. 30 x w. 36 x d. 28 cm. In the background: Untitled, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 33.3 x 24.2 cm

On the first floor of the building, Tomio Koyama’s TKG Editions has mounted a colorful exhibition for one of their young artists—Yutaka Watanabe. A graduate of the Musashino Art University’s College of Art and Design, he already had a solo show with Tomio Koyama in 2008. TKG combined the artist’s painting, mostly from 2009 and 2010, with his latest three-dimensional work that takes Watanabe’s experiments with color into three dimensions. The theme that unites his two- and three-dimensional work is his understanding of textures and colors as it is embedded in his childhood memories. Just as Lapinski, he relies on the viewer to reconstruct reality from the plastic elements (textures, shapes, colors) in the artworks, although in Watanabe’s case the associations draw from the shallower pool of common experience—plastic, food coloring, virtual reality—so the viewers’ task here is infinitely easier.

Both exhibitions will be on through December 11th.

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