Jun Kaneko’s Stunning Mirage at Edward Cella
By Genie Davis
Through October 29th
Located at Edward Cella Art + Architecture is located at 2754 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles.
At Edward Cella Arts and Architecture through October 29th, Jun Kaneko’s “Mirage” is a vast and vivid installation whose encompassing complexity is not a mere illusion. Renowned for his large-scale ceramics, his work is experiential, stunning not just for its size but for its power.
Here, in the Japanese-born artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, both his paintings and ceramic works are on display. The titular piece, “Mirage,” is made up of acrylic on canvas paintings that fill one long, narrow, curved space that opens into a larger room. The effect is of walking through a tunnel of art, one that shifts in a shimmering, almost disorienting effect until reaching the gallery’s main room. One may feel inclined to hold one’s breath traversing the long, hall-like space until entering the larger one.
“Mirage” is displayed here in an installation that is site-specific for Cella, which is reason alone to see this exhibition before closing. It’s a terrific and beautiful way to view the 9 x 7-foot acrylic on canvas works, entering the long display area in an Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience that is 63-feet long.
Visually dynamic, the world that first narrows then widens, becomes a panoply of yellow, gold, red, and orange, the colors deepening toward the red spectrum as the installation pulls viewers forward and into the main room. It is like entering a fun-house of art, one that is as entertaining as it is immersive; bold and imaginative in both conceptualization and palette.
Also a part of the exhibition are several of Kaneko’s vast and towering sculptures, which here loom in the center of the same space as “Mirage.” The ceramic “Untitled, Dango,” is monolithic and monochromatic. There are other, smaller works also on display, each also created in black and white. Deceptively simple, perhaps because of the monochromatic color scheme, the pieces are imbued with a peaceful, almost zen quality, one that brings up pop culture totems like the yin and yang symbol, while turning these tropes inside out. They are intensely meditative; viewers can study the forms, their curves, their balance, and find dynamic art that is at the same time quieting, as spiritually evocative as rushing water on stone – an apt image, perhaps, for his ceramic shapes and textures.
Kaneko is known for his use of patterned markings, and while evident on both compact and large works, it is on his largest pieces that these markings are most profound, creating an abstract feeling of flow and restraint. However, diminutive works and majestically towering pieces alike create something timeless, familiar and alien, soothing and strange. Kaneko’s meticulous ceramics process is beautifully expressed here, combining both the form of ceramics with a painterly style.
The artist initially studied painting under Japanese master painter Satoshi Ogawa, moving to Los Angeles in 1963, when he was introduced to ceramics through collectors Fred and Mary Marer, with whom he was staying. If his ceramic sculptures manipulate physical space, so does his painting here, both using repeated yet restrained motifs that are cumulatively incredibly forceful.
In both mediums, Kaneko’s work feels infinite, absorbing the viewer into his expansive art. The scale serves the purpose: viewers cannot help but feel they are part of a larger whole, a molecule in a wondrous universe.
Edward Cella Art + Architecture is located at 2754 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles.