Hikari Shimoda | Foley Gallery

by Liz on April 23, 2011

in Art & Design

Midnight Birthday Party (2010), 11"x9", Watercolor on paper

If you’re in the mood for sweet paintings with a palpable sense of childhood discomfort, look no further than Hikari Shimoda’s works, now on view at the Foley Gallery through May 7.

The exhibit, titled “me, as in the beast coat,” has some echoes of Shimoda’s Japanese contemporary and predecessor Nara Yoshitomo. According to Shimoda, children aren’t the carefree souls we oblivious grown-ups presuppose them to be. They suffer humiliation, sexual embarrassment, loneliness and hollowed out abandonment. That’s some pretty heavy emotional baggage, but whatever these real or imagined children are thinking is buried in the pretty pastel world where they reside. The presence of Teddy bears, birthday cakes, blue skies with fluffy white clouds, however, are still no match for the sad biography of childhood, interrupted.

I found it poignant that Shimoda, a native of Nagano, chose to depict children in a delicate palette, evocative of the Japanese kawaii culture but also light years apart from the feelings of trivial joy associated with cartoon characters. Unwritten chastisement of adults was visible everywhere. Who else could possibly be responsible for the false assurances and let-downs our little anti-heroes were enduring? The absence of the villain in the paintings seemed to further underscore my hypothesis that there was nothing more unforgivable, and therefore unmentionable, than the shadowy authority that would let this happen. The artist’s message also evoked the universal notion of an inner child residing in all of us, somehow forgotten after all these years, but still there, desperately seeking comfort, love, and an outpouring of empathy.

Shimoda’s paintings are beautiful, and had me looking forward to more from this young and talented Japanese artist. At 26 years old, she has probably put childhood well behind her. Still, as her works demonstrate, that makes her young enough to see glimpses of the past in the rearview mirror. For more information on the current exhibit, see here.

Comfortable Sadness, 2010, 57"x45"

Birthday Party, 2010, 29"x41", Acrylic and gouache on paper mounted on wood panel

Funeral of My Character, 2010, 45.5"x40", Acrylic on paper mounted on wood panel

Pensive art appreciation in the midst of gallery chaos.



Sarah Sze Solo Exhibition

by Liz on September 19, 2010

in Art & Design

Gallery-goers rendered speechless by Sarah Sze's installation at Tanya Bonakdar gallery

Chinese-American Sarah Sze is a site-specific installation artist who arranges everyday objects in unexpected ways. She guides the viewer to re-examine the mundane paraphernalia that surrounds and engulfs our personal space. Q-tips, toothpicks, plastic containers, electrical wires, no object is too common for Sze to upcycle into one of her critically acclaimed works of art.

My favorite part of visiting Sze’s works at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery was watching viewer reactions to her pervasive installations. Some seemed pleasantly surprised, others remained seriously baffled. That’s probably because her pieces often trailed into a larger structure, only to retreat indefinitely into the blank canvas of the gallery. No beginning, no end. So many grey areas, even I was scolded at one point for stepping on her art: a few dead leaves outside the perimeter of her installation. Yes, art is everywhere, Sze ‘s arrangments proclaimed. We just have to look for it.

Dead bonsai. Fan blows. Fall is almost here.


Another vantage point of the untitled work on the ground floor.


Portable Planetarium. Not exactly portable, but very cool nonetheless.


Details of Portable Planetarium.


Details of Portable Planetarium. Also my first encounter with an overhead projector in over 15 years.


Either a bird house with a fire escape or a feature for Dwell magazine.

Sarah Sze Solo Exhibition is on view at the Tanya Bonakdar gallery from September 16 to October 23. It’s definitely worth a look.