By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The paintings are tremendous. Although his sources may be easy to locate, his work looks like nothing else. All the paintings here are new, dated 2000. But describing an Ikeda painting as new is not entirely correct. Ikeda points to the large horizontally shaped oil and wax on canvas titled "the site," which hangs on the center of Ironton's only major display wall. "This is new," he says. "But I started it nearly ten years ago." His method is to re-address paintings over and over again until he's satisfied with the result. He gestures to another painting: "I already know what I'm going to do to that one when the show's over." If it doesn't sell, that is.
The painting "the site" has been heavily encrusted in pigment and wax, with every square inch filled by a pictorial element done with what looks like a half a tube of paint. Dominating the center is a luminous passage made from an innumerable list of pastel tints. Around the edges, the paint is dark and murky, with many shades of brown and dark blue used in relation to each other. It's hard to make out the subjects of Ikeda's paintings, but shapes that generally suggest plants, or at least plantlike forms, are seen, especially across the bottom and filling the right side of "the site."
Hung to the left of this painting is the very different "bird," which was also painted with oil and wax on canvas. In it, a diptych that's mostly done in ochres, pinks and tans, Ikeda has placed a shape only somewhat evocative of a bird of prey in the top center of the joint of the two panels. The bird is done in blues and greens. In a couple of places, in particular in the bottom center of the left-hand panel, Ikeda has crammed the area with crowded, automatist scribbles in a variety of dark colors.
Another oil and wax on canvas is "invisible you." Using mostly hot reds, yellows and oranges, Ikeda has placed a couple of heavily painted white shapes right on the surface, giving the impression that the rest of the painting exists behind, falling away into the illusion of three-dimensional space.
Proceeding to the smaller area to the left, Ikeda's drawings have been hung in a line on one wall, and across from them, a row of his monoprints. Some of the drawings are quick sketches, while others are full-blown preparatory studies for paintings. In this group are two real standouts, "messenger" and "pupate," both in mixed media on paper.
The monoprints are similar in style to the drawings and were pulled by Mark Lunning at Open Press, the Denver printmaking facility. In "with the wind #5," Ikeda contrasts light colors with a dark ground in burnt orange and charcoal gray, just as he does in his paintings.
Ikeda's work is linked to classic abstract expressionism, and to the later neo-expressionism, but it's hard to see any Japanese influence. For instance, his technique of building up layer after layer contrasts with the minimal method associated with Japanese art. But lacquering, a quintessential Japanese method, is created in a similar sequential and laborious way. And then there are the gestural lines that crowd his compositions. "My line, to me, is very Oriental, and the way I compose forms is Oriental, too," says Ikeda.
Surely it's this blending of East and West that gives Ikeda's work its unique look. But before seeing his latest efforts, you'll first have to find the obscure new Ironton Studios & Gallery. With no set schedule for gallery hours, the place is open only by luck or appointment, though I've been told someone's almost always there on weekdays. Nonetheless, it might make sense to call before starting out.