New York, the birthplace of Minimalism, has not at all times been type to artists striving to develop the style’s reductive orthodoxies. Contemplate how lengthy it took for this metropolis’s artwork world to acknowledge the rigorous abstractions of Carmen Herrera, Virginia Jaramillo, and Mary Corse. Herrera was 102 and Corse was in her mid 70s after they had their first museum exhibits on the Whitney Museum of American Artwork, and Jaramillo was in her early 80s when she had her first solo museum present on the Menil Assortment in Houston. As a substitute of seeing them as by-product, the artwork world started to acknowledge these artists as pioneers.
Born in 1955, a decade after Corse, Kim Uchiyama belongs to a era of girls summary artists who’ve but to obtain the popularity they deserve. After I visited the exhibition Kim Uchiyama: Warmth and Shadow at 499 Park Avenue, within the constructing’s foyer gallery, the artist’s first solo present in New York since 2014, I requested myself: What does Uchiyama do in paint that’s her personal?
In 2015, Uchiyama started taking common journeys to Sicily. The seven work within the exhibition had been impressed by the completely different sensations she’s had there, from the pure mild and the altering colour of the soil to the excavated temple websites of Selinunte and Agrigento. For the artist, the query was the way to seize this collision between nature and the artifical, the altering mild and getting old ruins everything of 1’s expertise in a particular milieu, with out turning into anecdotal or narrative.
Uchiyama’s visible vocabulary consists of portray stacked bands at completely different intervals on uncooked linen. In her alternative of colour, top, placement, and spacing, she imbues the painted bands and the areas between them with equal significance. The interior rhythms and shifts between the painted and naked bands recall a well known assertion by the nice English essayist and critic Walter Pater: “All artwork continuously aspires to the situation of music.”
I felt that situation in Uchiyama’s work, because the interplay between the painted and unpainted bands establishes a dynamic, tightly choreographed composition. Like watching dancers transfer backwards and forwards throughout the stage, wanting turns into an energetic, engaged act, which is rare within the work of celebrated Minimalists. Uchiyama’s work open up an area of self-reflection as they summon the viewer’s private associations.
“Selinus” (2018) and “Meridian” (oil on linen, 72” x 72”, 2021), displayed in shut proximity, make a great introduction to the particularities of Uchiyama’s work. Regardless of their related palettes of ocher and cerulean hues and use of 4 horizontal bands of paint set towards naked linen, the variations between the 2 are vital. In “Meridian,” huge ocher bands are positioned beneath a slim cerulean and turquoise band close to the highest fringe of the sq. canvas. Intervals of unpainted linen are the colour of coriander. Whereas the position of the colours suggests earth and sky, Uchiyama undercuts that notion with the linen intervals. She additional complicates our expertise of the work with darkish and light-weight hues that create the phantasm of a receding view. Lastly, the sq. floor refuses a reductive studying of the portray as panorama.
Sicily, which was dominated by many teams, together with the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Normans, was an necessary website of contact for various cultures. Uchiyama’s work conjure these associations with out spelling them out. In “Selinus,” named for an historic port in southern Turkey, the artist reverses the colour scheme, putting a large ocher band within the higher a part of the portray and three cerulean bands beneath. The irregular spacing between the coloured bands leads me to surprise about their proportional relationship. The longer I checked out these work, the extra there was to see.
The remaining 5 work are displayed in a detailed proximity on one wall, like a sequence. Whereas I noticed connections, once more, the variations got here to matter most to me. And whereas the author/reader in me needed to make associations between the portray “Odyssey” (2020) and the Homeric epic of Ulysses’s 20-year voyage to Ithaca, Uchiyama resists the literal. That resistance is essential to the viewer’s expertise of her work. Impressed by the sunshine and panorama of the Mediterranean, significantly of Sicily, Uchiyama needs to free the work from these bonds with out denying their inspiration. That she has discovered a approach to work inside a tightly circumscribed vocabulary and make one thing each recent and singular isn’t any small accomplishment.
Kim Uchiyama: Warmth and Shadow continues at 499 Park, The Foyer Gallery (499 Park Avenue, Central Midtown, Manhattan) by means of September 1. The exhibition was curated by Jay Grimm, Jay Grimm Artwork Advisory, and Kaitlyn Ward.