Art Exhibition: Masaktsu Kondo “Whenever I Am Silent” – All Visual Arts Gallery London
All Visual Arts – 2 Omega Place London N1 9DR
Open 4th May – 31st May 2012
All Visual Arts are proud to introduce an exhibition of paintings by acclaimed Japanese artist, Masakatsu Kondo. Whenever I am Silent is a meditation on the artifice of nature, exploring the space between the perceived and the real, occupying AVA’s large warehouse space in King’s Cross with a series of compelling landscapes. The exhibition includes a wide range of his recent work, from still, unsettling landscapes inspired by traditional Japanese composition to the more lyrical new works being exhibited for the first time at AVA.
Masakatsu Kondo’s paintings draw on the natural world and symbolic imagery of contemporary media; landscapes that adhere to the imagined, idealised notion of how they should appear. Kondo opens up an inquisition of the world presented to us, particularly within an urban metropolis where ‘natural’ landscapes are architectures of the imagination. Michael Wilson suggests that the world imagined by Kondo, though ‘recognisably an interpretation of our own, is subtly but demonstrably out of step with observable reality.’ Pitting the sublime against the mundane, Kondo constructs subtly enhanced and engineered scenery suggestive of a peculiarly modern sense of isolation.
Kondo’s landscapes draw their inspiration not from life but from reference books, taking their cue from geographically accurate and scientifically impartial material found in topography, geology and gardening manuals. As such, the natural world that he constructs is an abstraction of reality, a composition of impossible landscapes; the sky a brilliant blue, the mountains tall and lakes deep, yet lacerated from reality the images seem unsettling in their perfection. Inspired by these encyclopedic images, Kondo produces paintings that are bound up in memories, landmarks rather than landscapes. These evocative scenes elicit an uncanny sensation of familiarity and a quiet retrospection that reminds the viewer of a long forgotten place. These landmarks become mnemonic triggers for nostalgic images of the natural world, drawn from film, advertising and our own memories. Developing on these themes of memory and authenticity, Kondo’s new paintings elicit a more lyrical encounter with nature and juxtapose cultural experience with the environmental. ‘Chorus’ references the symbolic status of mountains in Japanese folklore and their counterpart in the European architectural tradition of cathedrals, both finding divinity in scale and structure.
Kondo’s work exposes the contemporary conflict to establish true authenticity in a world in which digital reproduction and enhancement are the everyday. Our expectations of ‘nature’ are misshapen by the promises of contemporary media, complicating our perception of the real and ultimately provoking a deeper sense of dissatisfaction. This melancholy speaks of a yearning to experience a relationship with our environment that lives up to the idyll of memory. Kondo attempts to capture this evanescent sensation in his paintings, promising fantasy yet acknowledging the inadequacy of reality. Whilst the artist exposes the artificiality of this relationship, we remain blighted by our pursuit of a utopian dream.
Drawing reference from such disparate sources as European Romanticism; the intricacy of traditional Japanese artists such as Hokusai, and contemporary film and advertising, Kondo’s work reminds us of the enduring struggle to establish an equilibrium between man and nature. His paintings depict a hybrid of our cultural sublime and the facsimile of nature orchestrated around contemporary urban development. This Romantic motif is not only a reminder of the transience of being, but an entirely relevant call to face up to our role in this dynamic: his work is not merely a Romantic conceit, but a declaration of intent.
Masakatsu Kondo was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1962. Since graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1993 he has continued to live and work in London. He has exhibited internationally, both solo and as part of group shows, competing in the John Moores Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (1997 and 1999) and the Granada Foundation Prize at the Whiteworth Art Gallery, Manchester (1993). Selected solo exhibitions include; Botany (2003) and Bridge (2007) at David Risley Gallery, London, Masakatsu Kondo at Mid Pennine Gallery, Burley (2002)
All Visual Arts is a hybrid arts enterprise founded by art expert Joe La Placa and Mike Platt in 2008. AVA’s goal is to build a major collection of contemporary art by representing and commissioning new work by today’s most exciting international developing artists.
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