December 2, 2018 - March 4, 2019
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Sunday, December 2, 6:00–10:00 pm
Surge up, pond, –– Foam, roll across the bridge, over the woods; –– black drapes and organs; –– lightning, thunder; –– rise and roll; –– Waters and sorrows, rise and heighten the Floods
At that moment, a dazzling flash struck my face and penetrated my eye...a mass of deep white cloud grew out in the center of the ring....At the same time, a long black cloud appeared spreading over the entire width of the city, spread along the side of the hill and began to surge over the valley... enveloping all woods, groves, rice fields, farms and houses. It was an enormous blast storm rolling up the mud and sand of the city. The delay of only several seconds after the monumental flash and heat-rays permitted me to observe the whole aspect of the black tidal wave. [sic]
-Dr. Shuntaro Hida
Kentaro Ikegami sent me the above two excerpts, the former is from “After the Flood” by Arthur Rimbaud published in 1886; the latter is from the memoirs of Dr. Shuntaro Hida, a survivor of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, published in 1985. Two lines by a pre-surrealist French poet accompanied by a factual account of an atrocity by a medical doctor–100 years apart. It is striking however, that the poetics of a flood and the description of a nuclear blast are so similar, as they are both inundating waves. I found this abrupt comparison to be indicative of Ikegami’s artwork which lapses between legibility and illegibility, articulation and abstraction, edging at the limit of what is sensible– a work of comparative violence
The ‘Flash Paintings’, began in 2016, are made of sheer textiles draped and stretched over reflective aluminum paint on plastic. Under ambient lighting conditions it presents itself to the eye as a geometric painting, a shape in a field of color. Under direct light (such as a camera flash) the aluminum paint reflects back an abstract painting. This series is in superposition of the two poles of minimalism and abstraction, objectivity (gestalt shapes) and subjectivity (the mark making of the artist.) Once direct light penetrates the textiles, the painting marks are all the same, a cross hatched composition reminiscent of a landscape drawing.
The abstract landscape bounded by aluminum rectangle is directly appropriated from an evidence photograph after the bombing of Hiroshima. The photograph is of a woman whose check patterned clothes (textile) was burned onto her skin from the awesome flash of the nuclear bomb. Ikegami’s treatment of human wound-as-abstraction is the same as the eye of the men who took the photograph. It is objective material to an experiment, uninterested in the figure or human-ness of the subject. He landed on his method of stretching fabric over a painting because that is what happened to this woman, the clothes she decided to wear on that day was burned permanently onto her skin, textile-as-image-as-skin. As he explains, “the eye flattens everything, the horizon of modernity, is that all things dimensional can be flattened into an image by a single explosion, a shutter of a lens, the city is a shadow, people are ash and pigment.”
The paintings are accompanied by a wall hanging multimedia piece. Three upturned flat-screen monitors are reflected towards the viewer by pieces of beam-splitter glass placed directly on top of the screen. The monitors are playing a multi-screen video loop of world-ending-explosion sequences from popular culture. The unique reflective and transparent property of the glass allows images to be overlayed on top of each other in physical space. Ikegami has chosen to layer the graphic “nuclear attack of LA” in Terminator 2 with a “spirit bomb” from Dragon Ball Z abstracting highly recognizable cinematic moments in bright explosive compositions. So as long as the media industry exists, an infinite series of abstractions can be generated by this machine. The apocalyptic film references are in line with his overall artistic project, the sublimation of nuclear apocalypse through culture, in waves.
black drapes and organs; Waters and sorrows, rise and heighten
The delay of only several seconds
permitted me to observe
the black tidal wave.
Victoria Seacrest, Paris, 2018
Ikegami, Kentaro XXXV, 2018, technical fabric on artist-made frames, sound insulation foam, aluminum pigment painting on plexi, 48 x 38 inches
Rimbaud, Arthur. “After the flood.” Arthur Rimbaud Collected Poems. Trans. Ed. Martin Sorrell, Oxford University Press, 2001. 257.
Hida, Shuntaro. “Under the Mushroom-Shaped Cloud in Hiroshima.” Retrieved from http://www.wcpeace.org/Hida_memoir.htm 1985.