Makoto Ofune: STILL WAVE
May 04, 2022 - June 25, 2022
Yoshii Gallery is pleased to announce STILL WAVE, featuring new work by the artist Makoto Ofune. Ofune creates rich, luminous artworks by reinventing traditional modes of Japanese painting. This technique results in vibrant artworks that reflect the spiritual and meditative process of the artist.
Makoto Ofune begins his process by mounting custom-made Japanese hemp paper onto a wooden frame using natural glue. He then uses an ancient method of pigment making, in which metal ores and gemstones (including cinnabar, azurite, and malachite) are crushed into richly hued powdered pigments called iwa enogu. Ofune uses a mortar and pestle to hand-crush the stones into tiny particles that enhance the vibrancy of the pigment. These powder pigments are then mixed with a natural animal gelatin glue called nikawa in order to adhere the pigments to the paper. Ofune can only prepare small amounts of this combination at once as it must be applied to the paper before the glue cools and solidifies. When the glue sets, it adheres the pigments onto the paper, creating a three-dimensional artwork that maintains the texture of Ofune’s raw materials.
This meticulous process of adding layer after layer of pigment to paper is meditative for the artist and imbues his work with a deep sense of spirituality. Ofune believes his process is equally as important as the finished work. In fact, Ofune considers the process to have begun long before he ever touches his materials. He is highly aware of the fact that the colors of the minerals he uses began developing in the Earth long before he crushed them into pigments. He views himself as the bridge between nature and art, translating the power and mystery of the natural world onto paper and board. He aims to connect with the infinite through his artworks and encourages viewers to get lost in his dreamlike colorscapes.
His new oval artworks perfectly embody this goal. By deliberately avoiding the usual straight lines and hard corners of more traditional canvases, Ofune gives his works a more natural and organic feeling. The deep jewel-like hues are concentrated around the edges of the artwork, fading as they move inwards, giving the artworks an otherworldly effect. The pieces appear lit from within, evoking another world obscured just beyond the canvas.