Jun 072024

For Kazuyuki Takezaki’s exhibition Before Spring at 47 Canal, he presents distinctive versions of the landscape around his home in Marugame,  Japan.

The press release provides more detail-

…His current painting practice is deeply informed by the landscape around Marugame, with its plains ringed by low mountains in the distance. Often employing a grayish, chalky palette highlighted by blushes of orange shading into purple or white, he paints studies of plant life or mountain ridges as quickly rendered silhouettes that evoke miniature frescoes. In another body of work, he attaches canvas to a board and then sets out in his van to find a spot in the countryside, where he records his impressions in situ using oil stick. Comparing this practice to old men playing board games outdoors, he often spends several days on these “Board/Table” pieces, trying to keep up with the atmospheric conditions as they change hour by hour and day by day.

Both the canvases and the “Board/Table” pieces retain an element of the windowness of the earlier works in allowing for a coexistence of transparency and opacity. “At dusk, I often see the town horizontally divided into upper and lower halves by transparent and opaque color,”
Takezaki writes. Sometimes the sky looks like “solid gouache” while the town and trees are shot through with light, while at other times it’s the sky that takes on “a deeply transparent color” against the dark shadow of the town. The bands of color that occasionally bisect the small canvases at odd places, suggesting a horizon line but also arbitrary erasures, allude to this effect. They also come, Takezaki says, from a desire to work with multiple images at the same time. In a sense his works replicate the visual noise that accumulates on the surface of a window—replicate the agency of the window itself in simultaneously framing and interfering with the view.

But there is also a subtext to the works that pushes them beyond the tradition of the landscape-ranging from literati ink scrolls to amateur Sunday paintings and everything in between—into something that feels urgent and timely. According to Takezaki, the land around Marugame is dying. He can see it clearly in the sprawl being constructed in the plains, which drives away animal life, and the effects of fertilizer and other chemicals on the vegetation. The immediacy he strives for in his paintings—the way he tries to take everything all in at once, including the particles in the air and the brilliant light that illuminates the trees at dusk—is also an act of bearing witness to nature as a liminal zone between the worlds of the living and the dead. Communicating a profound yet fleeting sense of place, Takezaki’s windows onto this constantly shifting environment are also reflections on time, memory, and the porous overlaps between subject and object.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.