Colorful Japanese printmaking at the MAG

05:00 AM, Jan 19, 2014

Koichi Kiyono's Cultivation II, a large installation of etching on cotton-wool and felt, shows inks printed onto fabrics then stretched over discs. The colorful printed and sewn discs appear to be floating above the floor. (PROVIDED BY MAG)/


Written By Donna De Palma

Exhibit events

Wednesday, 4:30 to 7 p.m.: Free workshop “Printmaking in your Classroom” for teachers. Led by Elizabeth King Durand. Pre-registration required by calling (585) 276-8971.
Next Sunday, 2 p.m.: “Setting the Stage,” a lecture by Lucy Durkin on the aesthetics and evolution of 20th century Japanese printmaking. Free with museum admission.
Feb. 9, 1 to 4 p.m.: “DIY: Make a Print” lecture and workshop. Nancy Norwood, curator of “New Beginnings” exhibit, will speak, and Carol Acquilano will lead a hands-on workshop. Cost is $45; call (585) 276-8971.

If you go

What: “Redefining the Multiple: 13 Contemporary Japanese Printmakers.”
When: Through March 16.
Where: Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave.
Cost: Free with museum admission of $12; $8 for seniors; $5 for students; half price after 5 p.m. Thursdays.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.
For information: (585) 276-8900 or mag.rochester.edu.

A new exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery is a colorful and sometimes surprising look at Japanese printmaking today.

Marie Via, MAG’s director of exhibitions, heard through the “artistic” grapevine about “Redefining the Multiple: 13 Contemporary Japanese Printmakers.” Via, through an artist whose work had been at MAG, met Sam Yates, director of Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture at the University of Tennessee and one of the exhibit’s curators.

First thing that struck me when I viewed these works, initially, was the liveliness, the vibrancy of color,” Via says. “Photos simply didn’t do justice to the textures and colors that filled the small gallery we visited. We were happy to be able to bring this work to Rochester, to a museum that has enough space to show works like this at their best.”

Rochester is the last stop for the traveling exhibit of prints and 3-D installations of works by Shoji Miyamoto, Koichi Kiyono, Kouseki Ono and others.

Via was struck by two works, which stood out for originality and impact. The first was Koichi Kiyono’s Cultivation II, a large installation of etching on cotton-wool and felt, shows inks printed onto fabrics then stretched over discs. The colorful printed and sewn discs appear to be floating above the floor.

This work by Kiyono fills the exhibition space with color and texture,” Via says.

Kiyono’s inspiration for Cultivation II, according to the artist’s statement, comes from Japanese temple gardens.

Via was also surprised by what Shoji Miyamoto achieved in his charming Red and Fatty Tunas, an image of two pieces of tuna sushi suspended on a black background.

Miyamoto took a traditional woodblock print technique and selected new subject matter — food — to delight the viewer,” Via says.

Miyamoto, who says in his artist’s statement that he wants to “render the familiar in a new light,” also has Surfacing Watermelon 2 in the show. In that work, a thick slice of pink watermelon and its reflection are suspended whimsically on a watery blue background.

Also included in the exhibit are works using a 3-D printer such as that by Kouseki Ono, an installation of small towers of ink that catch the light as you move around them. The completed form resembles a large, handpainted block rug with migrating texture and pattern.

Ono builds each tower — a few millimeters in diameter — by layering different colors. The tonality of Ono’s work changes depending upon the angle at which it is viewed.

A catalog description of Ono’s work delineates his process. “Ono creates print screens (composed) of myriad dots, then prints these over and over, often repeating the process more than 100 times, changing colors as he goes, resulting in countless three-dimensional ‘stalagmites’ of built-up ink composed of different color layers that obscure the underlying surface. These precisely aligned rows of fine dots, when viewed together, create waves of mingling colors and optical effects.”

Toshinao Yoshioka’s, Place of Water series shows variegated melons resembling giant planets. The artist peeled the skin of melons from the outside, revealing subtle color patterns and effects to create an other-worldly impression.

Photographic printing techniques that sandwich plates of glass to create multiple images are also on display in “Redefining the Multiple.”

Via says the exhibit will have appeal for people who appreciate traditional printmaking techniques but will be accessible to anyone.

There are mysterious, haunting landscapes on view like the black and white etchings with mezzotint and aquatint of Arata Nojima, alongside these very colorful installations,” Via says. “There is something here for everyone.”