Over the course of the past decade, artist MADSAKI has achieved success as a painter exploring and undermining dichotomies between high and low art, good and bad taste, and the nature of both skill and precision in the act of painting. Drawing on visual resources that range from the classics throughout art history to newspaper images and pop culture icons, often embellished with spray paint applied with lose splatters and pools of color, the artist’s work often pulls at threads around the notion of painting as an “elevated” art form, instead using it as a jumping off point for broader conversations of image culture and production. For the artist’s most recent show at Galerie Perrotin in Shanghai, the artist takes a new approach, exploring landscape painting as a new mode of practice.
As the recent global pandemic ravaging continuously throughout the world, keeping people socially distanced and mentally isolated, the artist seems to have leaned into the notion of nature and landscape as a mode of both physical and psychological escape. These works in particular draw inspiration from the artist’s nocturnal excursion with his wife and daughter to a deserted beach in the Noto Area of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, during their visit to his wife’s hometown. Captivated by the sceneries along a dirt road behind the beach, desolate and rarely frequented even by the locals, he stopped along the way and took many photographs, lit by the moon above and the headlights of his car.
These photos serve as the base for the artist’s work over the course of the show, taking the stark light of the headlamps and the curvature of branches as a point of entry, and are transformed by the artist’s quick strokes and powerful fusions of color and line. The show is equally inspired by A Season in Hell by French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose preoccupation with deranged senses, intoxicating circumstances, or even disorienting experiences, not only captivated the artist, but its lyrical imagery, its destruction of poetic forms resonated with MADSAKI’s approach to painting. Similar to Rimbaud’s cathartic epic that signed off his career in poetry, the appeal in MADSAKI’s landscape paintings is the way in which the artist extracts authentic personal experiences that draw on suffering and despair as much as on hope and aspiration. Here, these ideas find a voice in collisions of color and form, rarely settling into easy legibility and bringing up issues like motion blur, lighting and focus, all hallmarks of the modern era of cameraphone technology. Pulling these disparate spiritual, technological and natural constructs together, the artist opens a new dialogue into the nature of human experience and creativity.
The show closes October 22nd.
– D. Creahan
Madsaki: The Night is Long that Never Finds the Day [Exhibition Site]