Rooted both in a contemporary Japanese aesthetic and in the traditional painting style of Nihonga, Hiroshi Sugito makes paintings that elude both categories. Using delicate layers of acrylic and dry pigment, the artist begins with an ambiguous painted space into which figurative elements are introduced, creating a slow-burning tension that quietly but insistently questions the role of painting as object and site.
From his early works, which featured elements such as towers, ships, rockets, and small fighter planes, to more recent works in which a space such as a stage, pond, or mirror becomes a gateway to another world, Sugito’s paintings subtly oscillate between abstract and concrete, strange and beautiful, familiar and estranged. In the artist’s words: “I start moving my brush like walking into the woods, away from everything, and I want words and meanings to lose their power and just fade away.”
These new works continue Sugito’s exploration of other worlds, visually evoking tactile sensations such as hardness and coolness as well as intangible feelings and musical tones. According to the artist, the motif of the “connecting man” in these works evolved from an almost musical approach to the painting process. The artist writes: “I have been using my paint in bowls and buckets like a drum set. Three years ago I started using a palette thinking of it as a piano. And finally now, I’m looking at my brushes wishing to use them like a theremin.”
Hiroshi Sugito was born in Nagoya, Japan, where he lives and works. He has exhibited frequently throughout Japan, Europe and the United States including 2006 solo exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas and The Sculpture Garden Museum, Vangi Museo, Shizuoka, Japan and such exhibitions as The Door into Summer: The Age of Micropop at Art Tower Mito, curated by Midori Matsui Painting and Art at the Edge of the World at the Walker Art Center, curated by Douglas Fogle. This is the artists’ sixth solo show with the gallery.