Galerie Richard

Shirley KANEDA - Provocative Pleasure

Press release

Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard is pleased to announce the opening  Shirley Kaneda’s second solo exhibition “Provocative Pleasure” from June 6th until July 25th, 2009.

Shirley Kaneda presents seven new paintings of two different sizes. We find elements of the abstract style she has been developing since 2000, namely her undulatory, fluid and complex disturbances which are all curved and which remind us of light reflections on liquid surfaces and/or surface liquids of different densitites. These shapes seem unstable and fleeting yet the paintings are freeze frames. They can develop within the space, either stretching out or clustering together in compact blocks which overlap one another. For the most part these new works open onto immaterial spaces due to the flatness and delicacy of numerous layers of oil paint applied in meticulous brushstrokes.

This new work marks an important development: Shirely Kaneda reintroduces a geometric style defined by the use of horizontal and vertical lines as well as by the arches of circles. These geometric elements seem fixed and stable unlike the style previously described. Today in one painting, Shirely Kaneda combines fluid and undulatory patterns with geometric elements bound by another order and another timeframe.

The four big paintings are in fact shown in chronological order, allowing us to comprehend the artist’s creative development. The painting “Provocative Pleasure” is the first example of the geometric shape within fluid shapes: a rectangular white frame which separates two infinite spaces with inverse gradations of colour. Around the edges of the painting there are three distinct groups of fluid shapes: the first in the top left corner stretches downwards forming a delicate curve, the second compact and stable shape in the bottom right hand corner, and then the third which is in fact a cluster of various different coloured biomorphic shapes which float at the top of the painting. In this picture the white geometric shape is present but only in the second layer of the painting. Thus the three groups of fluid shapes in the foreground remain dominant. This painting is certainly the most meditative due to the sheer size of the infinite coloured spaces in which greens and yellows stand out against the reds of the fluid shapes. “Enchanting Ennui”, the second big painting chronologically speaking, achieves a true balance between two abstract styles. It is in this sense a great success. The geometric shape, which could also be seen as a number of overlapping shapes, is made up of both rigt angled and circular shapes, which coexistent in perfect proportion to one another. This second painting is also brought together by the colour palette predominantly made up of pinks, reds and purples. On the one hand we find a large geometric shape which is softened by the numerous empty spaces within the frames. On the other hand the artist positions fluid shapes on the painting which are either small and compact or larger and more dispersed. As well as this first balance we also find a second harmony within the geometric structure itself. It is in this work alone that we find texture in the painting and it is to be found in the dark pink sinuous form on the right hand edge. The third painting, “Thunderous Silence”, is the most graphic. Again we find the white background so dear to the artist. Rectangular shapes and one round shape are linked together, for the most part, by very dark purple rectangular frames. Again we find three fluid shapes which seem to float above or maybe even below the geometric shapes. For the first time the effects of superimposing appear. They are still very faint but they perhaps mark a creative opening for the future. Unlike the two previous paintings the colour palette is varied and the colours well defined. This painting is the most graphic of the exhibition, on the one hand because of the relationship between contrasting colours and on the other because of the sombre colour of the rectangular frame. The geometric structuring based on shapes and dark horizontal and vertical lines has taken prime of place over the complex fluid shapes. By contrast we realise that the green-yellow rectangle is partially eaten away by a cut-out of the white background. This partial destruction of the rectangle becomes a vibration created by the blue and white fluid shape next to it. So we find a remarkable intentional creation which translates the relationship between forces and shapes. The fourth big painting, “Lucid Ambiguity”, is the most complex. If “Provocative Pleasure” is the easiest to decipher then the interpretation of this last painting is certainly the most difficult. A full appreciation requires a long time spent in front of the work. The geometric shape is made up of various different rectangular frames whose corners overlap, creating one vertical mass on the right hand side of the painting. Each frame contains part of a series of circular shapes which come out of the frame. Three vertical lines on the far left hand side and other vertical lines to the center left complete the geometric style. The background is white except for on the far right hand side of the canvas, between the frame shapes, and the left hand side of the painting where it is light purple. This picture contains only two fluid shapes: a compact shape similar to that in “Provocative Pleasure” is situated in the lower right, covering the four vertical lines and the group of frames, the second is positionned on the center left in a white space, over vertical lines. It is a small and strange shape. This painting was formulated on the canvas itself rather than on the computer. It was therefore a long creative process characterised by numerous modifications. The juxtaposition of the fluid shape over the ensemble of geometric shapes is complex, so much so that the colour palette of this painting is for the most part limited to different purples, rendering the distinction between shapes evermore difficult. It is undoubtedly the work containing the most elaborate composition with a marked contrast between empty and filled space. By means of these four paintings we are able to witness the progressive process that is the creation of complexities within geometric patterns and the rich and varied dialogue that occurs between the two styles developed by Shirely Kaneda.

The shapes in Shirley Kaneda’s oil paintings are always produced to the same scale. As a result, in her medium sized works, she only has room to depict one fluid shape in the center of the painting. Here she presents three medium sized paintings, one horizontal and two vertical. The horizontal painting, “Restless Serenity” is made up of horizontal stripes behind a fluid compact shape. This shape seems to grow horizontally and towards the bottom right in such a way that the shapes seem to be coming out of the bottom of the painting. Visually, the direction of the stripes of colour suggests a primarily horizontal expansion of the fluid substance and/or a horizontal shift. Although the colours are extremely varied they continue to work well together. The two vertical paintings with vertical stripes have the effect of locking in the fluid shape and therefore rendering it immobile or in any case more stable. This effect is confirmed by the shape itself which is intense and doesn’t seem to expand in the given space like the shape from the horizontal painting. “Comfortable Angst” presents relatively large stripes of gentle colours on a white background whilst the fluid shape in the foreground of the painting reuses these colours only in darker shades. Two horizontal lines mark out the two horizontal edges of the frame displaying colours which change according to the vertical stripes. In the painting “Energetic Fatigue” we find the same shape in the foreground, positioned in exactly the same way and using similar darker colours. The central vertical stripe is a light colour whilst the exterior stripes are darker, one of which being bright blue. The stripes go from top to bottom of the painting. If we compare the effects of different contrasting colours on the image as a whole, we find that in the second, more contrasted painting there is a more notable difference between the first and second vertical layers. Elsewhere, due to their contrast with the white, the bright blue exterior stripes enclose the fluid shape in a rigid frame in which the only possibility of evenutal movement will be a vertical one. The first painting seems less elongated due to the stripes along both horizontal edges and due to the pastel colour of these stripes. The fluid shape too seems bigger as it is more visible at it’s vertical extremities which are better detached from the stripes. The fluid form seems stable as it is enclosed in softness by the stripes of the painting’s four edges.

The titles of Shirley Kaneda’s paintings are oxymorons that couldn’t be more appropriate in this day and age. By allowing two radically different artistic styles to coexist, she presents us visual oxymorons. that act as a stimulant for our own thought. In a world where all types of conflicts tend to be pushed to their extremities, Shirley Kaneda’s paintings show us that it is possible, with care and understanding, to find ways for different systems, ideas, and people –merely neighbours– to live together.

Shirley Kaneda was born in Japan. She moved to New York in 1970 and obtained her American citizenship. She received the Guggenheim Foundation Award in 1999 and currently exhibits in many different cities in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard published a monography of the artist with an essay by Brooks Adams.


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