Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shuhei Igarashi at 414

Under the Blossoming TreeOil - 48" x 54"2011
My art review repost from a March 2012 show

Shuhei Igarashi, known to most as Clyde, is bringing to Gallery 414 his unique vision of the world. Clyde's self-reflective style of painting makes the trip to Fort Worth a worthwhile adventure. Just make sure your trip is on a Saturday or Sunday, because, like many alternative spaces, Gallery 414 has limited hours of operation.

Clyde’s paintings mix East and West aesthetics with a sense of whimsical fun and dark undercurrents. Many of the paintings feature a fuzzy creature, some flat graphic elements, and a minimal to surreal landscape background. The animals have a cartoon quality reminiscent of anime cartoons from Japan. These creatures are really spirits taken from Japanese myth and Clyde’s personal inventions. Each painting tells a story rich with intrigue, and looking at the work, I am left with more questions about the story than answers. Critic Robert Williams describes this type of work as Conceptual Realism or Lowbrow art and Kirsten Anderson calls it Pop Surrealism. Whatever you might label it, Clyde’s style of art is like that of a larger number of artists who use cartoons, abstract,and surreal elements to tell a story.

A few paintings have figures that are painted in a Western style. I see reference to historical Christian religious paintings in these works. “Pieta” depicts a realistic Mother Mary like figure with a simple graphic spirit on her lap. He uses spray paint to create a hazy background. The whole scene looks apocalyptic with a red storm brewing and heavy metaphoric figures. But the religious content is not always clear cut. For example, in the painting “Maria,” the figure is not wearing contemporary clothes, but the story behind the painting is a little unclear.

Other paintings like “Dream within a Dream,” drop the Western style figures and use the cute furry spirits as the focus. The background features a nuclear explosion and small mushrooms. I have to imagine that Clyde is referencing the World War II bombings of Japan or the tsunami and recent nuclear meltdown. Either way, the image weaves a sad tale about a mass exodus of spirits leaving the affected area.

Clyde’s mixture of mythical creatures, stories that combine multiple cultures and his use of transnational cultural symbols make for very smart and heavy paintings. Gallery 414 will feature his show titled “Paralyzed Paradise,” through April 1st. Gallery 414 is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 until 5:00 and by appointment. 414 Templeton, Fort Worth, 76107
For more images visit

No comments: