SUNDAY presents XX, a solo show featuring three large-scale works on paper by artist Asuka Ohsawa. Masterfully using gouache on paper, which has become her signature, Ohsawa’s most recent series of works combines elements of traditional Japanese art with twentieth century burlesque.
Referencing the traditional Japanese genre of Ukiyo-e, which literally means “pictures of the floating world,” Ohsawa’s sophisticated dreamscape is a world unto itself. Set in the clouds, the artist illustrates a female-oriented fantasyland of urban pleasure animated by a comic return to nature. By capturing the essence of Ukiyo-e’s close association with images of pleasure, Ohsawa furthers the tradition by positioning the viewer as a voyeur who peers unabashedly into the spectacle. Behind the fluffy white clouds, one catches a momentary glimpse of women and animals frolicking in a carefree, hedonistic landscape, populatedby cuddly bunnies, friendly deer, and beautiful semi-nude women.
Much like the nostalgic days of pin-up girls and burlesque performances, Ohsawa’s women are satirical, but with a saucy edge. The lush, elaborate setting, minimal costuming and sexually suggestive, romping behavior characterize the bawdy pageantry of burlesque revues. Yet, underlying the permissive sensuality of Ohsawa’s figures there exists a self-indulgent extravagance amongst the women and animals that could only exist outside of the masculine gaze. Despite their apparent delight and amusement, these women are imaginative figments, whose physical perfection and similar features reflect upon socially constructed (and often Western) standards of beauty.
In the project space: Recent paintings by Henry Samelson. Using enamel on aluminum, Samelson’s clusters of candy-colored shapes and squiggly lines capture, what the artist refers to as, a sense of “cartoon physics.” Exploding towards the viewer, the artist’s comic abstractions chronicle glossy blobs darting, jumping, falling, and hopping in and out of pictorial events.