Masaru Kurose: mudai, recent paintings, and in the middle gallery, Ward Schumaker: dumb boxes
San Francisco, California 94103
November 14 – December 22, 2012
reception Saturday, November 17, 5:00–8:00 PM
For LA15 in the front room we are showing recent paintings by Kobe, Japan based artist Masuru Kurose. Kurose, who was trained as an architect, continues his exploration of oil paint on clear vinyl, an industrial material that belies the tradition and antecedent of his stretched supports. Vinyl's transparency reveals the internal structure of Kurose's painting, much in the way that a glass and steel building incorporates the supporting girder into its external sheathing. Crafting his image, Kurose purposely anticipates the collision of his drawn stroke with the line of the exposed bracing of his painting's wooden chassis. He keeps in mind as well the offset effect of the drop shadow of the paint cast unpredictably in different lights against the wall. He thus sets up a double plane, the skin of paint floating on its transparent ground against the solid wall, shadow and reflection each a measured step behind the other. Kurose's gesture is also a mixture of the measured and the unpredictable, his highly keyed hues carried by meandering strokes that are in turn considered and spontaneous. To see the paintings one must see through them. The portal sets up an integrated drawing, an armature for color and light that supports both on more than one level and tends to splay itself open. This drawn structure, pervasive as it is across multiple surfaces, confounds the pictorial hierarchy of figure and ground we associate with the obvious historical precedent of stained glass, and position these translucent works in the camp of painting's fresh potential, and in the ongoing contemporary discovery of painting's radical roots.
In the middle gallery for our 15th rotation in Los Angeles, we are showing the painted objects of Ward Schumaker, selections from a series of polychromed constructions he refers to as his Dumb Boxes. These are amongst the first works Schumaker completed after his move from San Francisco to New York last year, and in many ways reflect the energy, gridded planes and silvery daylight of his newly adopted city. Often an artist fresh to New York is caught in an onrush of memory and internal ponder that acts as ballast against the sensory overload from outside. The poet Michael McClure imagined the painter Franz Kline as caught in a world of night sweats. A certain kind of leeching occurs. Schumaker's characteristic layering of text and image and gesture and wit is particularly well-suited to externalizing reflection. I suspect upon arrival he simply found the flat plane of his canvases and panels suddenly inadequate for containing whatever poured forth. And yet a life in the studio instilled in Schumaker the discipline to contain it just so. The result is an isometric suspension between sculpture and painting, neutral in its initial effect and then persistently corrosive, eating away at the membrane between the unconscious and the waking life. His biographical titles reinforce this effect, but like reviews without spoilers, do nothing to curtail the necessity of simply looking, and participating in the unfolding, like pinewood origami gates, of Schumaker's open borders.