Minoru Ohira solo & selected group exhibitions
In the west gallery are several new stand-alone sculptures by Ohira. Carved, bent and found wood pieces support curved frameworks skinned with thousands of overlapping wood chips, reminiscent of the thatched roofs of Ohira’s native village of Kurokawa, Japan. Touches of slate harmonize with the natural, rustic look of these pieces.
His works made of paper are basically flat works displayed on a wall. However, they typically display pronounced relief aspects – deep furrows, ridges, raised or recessed surfaces – emphatic textures that are borderline three-dimensional features and reveal his aesthetic foundation in sculpture. What Ohira calls “drawings” (represented in this Paperworks exhibition) are really carvings, whose visual and tactile manifestations are not at all drawn with any mark-making implement upon a surface; rather, they are incised into the paper with razor blades to produce cut-out grooves and troughs, transforming the medium of flat paper planes into low-relief sculptural fields.
He begins his process by radically altering the surface of thick sheets of five-ply Japanese paper, applying powdered pigment and graphite that he rubs deep into the surface; the graphite gives the paper a dark metallic-like sheen. He then texturizes the paper with a crosshatching pattern. So far Ohira’s labor-intensive technique is concerned mainly with surface treatment. But wielding razor blades, he cuts away thin strips and shreds of paper to produce geometric patterns that essentially render the expanse of paper less as a surface than as a carved, cut-up object. Flat though they are, Ohira’s “drawings” are not lines or colors applied to a passive surface; quite the opposite is true: the paper itself becomes the form and the structure of these artworks.
The patterns defined by Ohira’s manipulations of paper are usually imprecise geometric forms: interlocking arcs that create visually animated arabesques, grids of rough circles and spirals that extend from edge to edge, or rows of parallel channels. In the modern Western tradition of art and architecture, we often associate repeating geometric patterns with rationality, logic, predictability, and a kind of aesthetic stability. But the features of Minoru Ohira’s geometric “drawings” are so varied, so full of embraced imperfection and variability, and so inflected by incident and the hand of the artist, that they project an aura closer in sensibility to something organic and alive. It is his use of paper – the product of a once-living vegetal organism – and his interception of paper with ground mineral pigments and cutting that imbues his art with its sense of animation and the process of its coming into being.
Work by Anita Bunn, Robert Kushner & Minoru Ohira
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
and the possibilities of wood through contemporary works of art by
Yugen is the Japanese word for the mysterious or profound sense of beauty
in the Universe. It is the power to evoke rather than to directly show.
It is Exquisite Mystery as it informs the creative process.
Osamu Kido, Ohu Sato, Kyu Suzuki, Hiroshi Suto, Yasufumi Takahashi, Tsuyoshi Tanaka, Kasuyoshi Hirai, Wataru Maki, Takashi Yukawa, Taikan Yokoyama, Minako Yoshino