Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bay Area art picks for Nov 14 - 20

"Tetsuya Ishida: Saving the World with a Brushstroke" just opened at the Asian Art Museum. This is the first U.S. exhibition of paintings by the Japanese artist, who died in 2005. Ishida blended dreamlike realities with everyday life and melancholy isolation with bizarre wit, producing a body of work that triggers strong emotions but resists easy explanation.

Ishida once said he wanted his paintings to “depict the world as [he felt] it and let other people feel it freely.” The eight paintings at the Asian exhibit the range of Ishida’s themes, including the pressures of academic and office life, social dislocation, the dulling effects of mechanization and the search for identity.

His fame comes not just from his reputation as a maverick but also for his brilliant characterizations of Japanese society and the personal isolation that resulted from the country’s economic downturn through the 90s.

“Ishida captured the feelings of hopelessness, claustrophobia, and emotional isolation that burdened him and that dominated Japanese society during this era,” wrote Nick Simunovic of Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, site of an exhibition last fall. His characters are melancholy, introverted and seen on the edge of a nervous breakdown - probably reflecting the artist’s own psyche. His work is powerful but also disturbing; I left the museum feeling very “off.”  Ishida lived in a very bleak, bitter and frightening world - which probably is what led to his suicide.

Links to Keith Haring videos, Victor Cartegna and more at:

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